By 1919, W.B. Yeats was writing Ego Dominus Tuus (Latin: I am your Master). For the first time he uses Latin, the common voice of Catholicism. Also for the first time he divides himself into two different personalities, Hic (Latin: me now) and Ille (Latin: him or the other one). Hic represents the public Yeats, the one with a position in the world, or Dante (as Ezra calls him) who is enthralled by ‘the unconquerable delusion, Magical shapes’, as befits a creator of illusions, a mage, a playwright, a poet. Ille on the contrary, also called Michael Robartes, is a shadow or ghost, a ‘spectral image’ who is at home with the straw beds and horses’ excreta of ordinary working class people ‘... the coarse grass and the camel-dung’. Ille says he has been ‘mocked ... for his lecherous life’ but has now found ‘The most exalted lady loved by a man’. He says ‘I seek an image, not a book’; he is looking for beauty and flesh, not intellectual analysis as provided by his wife. He had been playing the field for women, but now he has really fallen in love with the actual rather than the intellectual. This is a dismissal of George’s ‘automatic writing’ and analytic ‘voices’ commanding their marriage. The title of the poem tells us that his ‘most exalted lady’ is Catholic and their love has been consummated (I am your master), while the identity of the man as Ille implies that he is not talking about his wife. Ille has left an‘open book’, a work in progress.
Excerpt from "Who Killed Honor Bright? How William Butler and George Yeats Caused the Fall of the Irish Free State" by Patricia Hughes, Hues Books 2014. www.HuesBooks.com