This chapter explores how Yeats’s focus on universal themes such as transformation, union of antinomies, and change while establishing an individual voice is the unique paradox in his work. I show how in A Vision, for example, while concentrating on geometric shapes, Yeats interprets and explains universal themes through a personal system, in a highly personal voice. Yet, the tension between the personal and collective is a creative one, and it recalls the Jungian notion of unconscious creative abilities through symbolic expression, where the poet uses collective symbols as products of personal “visions”.
While Jung’s alchemical studies suggest that alchemy is a personal transformation, Yeats indicates the same through the personal voice of his experiences, or “visions”. Jung saw the alchemist’s work as a voyage into the depths of his own psyche, where he encounters the archetypes of his collective unconscious. Yeats’s interest in alchemy and the occult was beyond a standard belief system, as it enhanced his interest in esoteric geometric symbols that informed his imagery in a modernist style that was thus experimental. Both Yeats’s philosophy and poetry, therefore, raise a sense of the importance of “alchemy” in modernist poetics, joining concrete expression with abstract meaning. I observe how the poet would agree with Jung that symbols are a concretizing of psychic contents, which are abstract ideas that need materializing.