'The Golden Helmet' and 'The Green Helmet'

"The Golden Helmet" and "The Green Helmet"

Manuscript Materials
Edited by William P. Hogan

From reviews of The Cornell Yeats series:

"For students of Yeats the whole series is bound to become an essential reference source and a stimulus to important critical re-readings of Yeats's major works. In a wider context, the series will also provide an extraordinary and perhaps unique insight into the creative process of a great artists."—Irish Literary Supplement

"I consider the Cornell Yeats one of the most important scholarly projects of our time."—A. Walton Litz, Princeton University, coeditor of The Collected Poems of William Carols Williams and Personae: The Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound

"The most ambitious of the many important projects in current studies of Yeats and perhaps of modern poetry generally. . . . The list of both general and series editors, as well as prospective preparers of individual volumes, reads like a Who's Who of Yeats textual studies in North America. Further, the project carries the blessing of Yeats's heirs and bespeaks an ongoing commitment from a major university press. . . . The series will inevitably engender critical studies based on a more solid footing than those of any other modern poet. . . . Its volumes will be consulted long after gyres of currently fashionable theory have run on."—Yeats Annual (1983)

William Butler Yeats's Helmet plays (The Green Helmet, in verse, and its earlier prose version The Golden Helmet) are part of the author's cycle of plays dealing with the life and death of the legendary Irish hero Cuchulain. First conceived in 1907, in the aftermath of the riots at the Abbey Theatre over J. M. Synge's Playboy of the Western World, the Helmet plays were written at a crucial turning point in Yeats's early career: politically, his disillusionment with Irish cultural nationalism was growing; professionally, he was beginning to separate himself in bitterness from the day-to-day operation of the Abbey; and aesthetically, he was continuing to incorporate his interest in the Japanese Noh tradition into his own dramatic vision. All of these developments in Yeats's life and work are visible in the Helmet plays.

This Cornell Yeats volume traces the evolution of the Helmet plays from the first versions of The Golden Helmet, published in prose in 1908, to the revision into verse in The Green Helmet, which appeared in 1910. All of the existing manuscript materials for the play—including the author's autograph manuscripts, revised proofs, and printed editions marked in the author's hand—are either reproduced photographically or transcribed in this scholarly edition. The edition also includes a census of the manuscripts, editor's notes, and an introduction outlining the history of the play's composition, production, and publication. This edition makes visible the complex evolution of these texts during pivotal years in Yeats's career.