Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

In addition to his enormous amount of poetry, Æ (AY-ee) wrote pungent essays in almost every imaginable field, from literary criticism to politics, economics, and agriculture. These essays are collected in such volumes as Some Irish Essays (1906) and The Living Torch (1937). His interest in that department of letters would eventually lead him to become editor of The Irish Homestead, and later The Irish Statesman. He also tried his hand at fiction with The Mask of Apollo, and Other Stories (1904), ranging from the Asian-tinged “The Cave of Lillith” and “The Meditation of Ananda” to the Celtic-influenced “A Dream of Angus Oge,” in which Æ characteristically blends East and West.

He also attempted drama with Deirdre (1902), the first important play to be performed by the company that was later to become the Irish National Theatre. Æ compiled his own spiritual autobiography, The Candle of Vision (1918), and in both it and Song and Its Fountains (1932), he attempted to explain his mysticism and poetic theory, which for him were one and the same. In The National Being (1916), Æ combines history with prophecy. The Interpreters (1922) consists of a dialogue among several characters typifying various positions in the Irish revolutionary movement—the heretic, the poet, the socialist, the historian, the aesthete, and the industrialist. In The Avatars (1933), Æ created a “futurist fantasy” in which mythical heroes, or avatars, appear and spread joy wherever they go. They are removed by the authorities, but their cult grows through legends and artistic records.

In addition to his literary and journalistic work, Æ maintained an extensive correspondence, a part of which has been published in Some Passages from the Letters of Æ to W. B. Yeats (1936), Æ’s Letters to Mínánlabáin (1937), and Letters from Æ (1961).