In Running to Paradise, M.L. Rosenthal, hailed by the Times Literary Supplement as "one of the most important critics of twentieth-century poetry," leads us through the lyric poetry and poetic drama of our century's greatest poet in English. His readings shed new, vivid light on Yeats's daring uses of tradition, his love poetry, and the way he faced the often tragic realities of revolution and civil war. Running to Paradise describes Yeats's whole effortsometimes leavened by wild humorto convey, with high poetic integrity, his passionate sense of his own life and of his chaotic era.
Himself a noted poet, Rosenthal stresses Yeats's artistry and psychological candor. The book ranges from his early exquisite lyrical poems and folklore-rooted plays, through the tougher-minded, more confessional mature work (including the sublime achievement of The Tower), and then to the sometimes "mad" yet often brilliant tragic or comic writing of his last years. Quoting extensively from Yeats, Rosenthal charts the gathering force with which the poet confronted his major life-issues: his art's demands, his persistent but hopeless love for one woman, the complexities of marriage to another woman at age 52, and his distress during Ireland's "Troubles." Yeats's deep absorption in female sensibility, in the cycles of history and human thought, and in supernaturalism and "the dead" comes strongly into play as well.