I have been all my working life indebted to the Scandinavian nation. When
I was a very young man, I spent several years writing in collaboration with
a friend the first interpretation of the philosophy of the English poet Blake.
Blake was first a disciple of your great Swedenborg and then in violent revolt
and then half in revolt, half in discipleship. My friend and I were constantly
driven to Swedenborg for an interpretation of some obscure passage, for Blake
is always in his mystical writings extravagant, paradoxical, obscure. Yet
he has had upon the last forty years of English imaginative thought the influence
which Coleridge had upon the preceding forty; and he is always in his poetry,
often in his theories of painting, the interpreter or the antagonist of Swedenborg.
Of recent years I have gone to Swedenborg for his own sake, and when I received
your invitation to Stockholm, it was to his biography that I went for information.
Nor do I think that our Irish theatre could have ever come into existence
but for the theatre of Ibsen and Bjornson. And now you have conferred upon
me this great honour. Thirty years ago a number of Irish writers met together
in societies and began a remorseless criticism of the literature of their
country. It was their dream that by freeing it from provincialism they might
win for it European recognition. I owe much to those men, still more to those
who joined our movement a few years later, and when I return to Ireland these
men and women, now growing old like myself, will see in this great honour
a fulfilment of that dream. I in my heart know how little I might have deserved
it if they had never existed.
Prior to Mr. Yeats's acceptance, Einar Lönnberg, President of the Academy
of Sciences, addressed the Irish writer: «Mr.Yeats - A worthier tongue
than mine has already given us a review of your literary work. What more,
then, can I do on this occasion than express our admiration and thank you
for the beautiful visions you have revealed to us from the Emerald Isle? We
have delighted in listening to the tales of the fairies and elves, with which
you have made us acquainted. We have been especially charmed by your poem
about the little <silver trout>. In another of your poems you have
said: Time drops in decay <Like a candle burnt out>. It is true, but
we should be happy if this day would remain long in your memory, as it certainly
will in ours.»
From Nobel Lectures, Literature
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