In 1885, an important year in Yeats’s early adult life, his poetry was published for the first time, in the , and he began his important interest in occultism.It was also the year that he met John O’Leary, a famous patriot who had returned to Ireland after 20 years of imprisonment and exile for revolutionary nationalistic activities.In London, Yeats met with Maud Gonne, a tall, beautiful, socially prominent young woman passionately devoted to Irish nationalism.
Most of Yeats’s poetry, however, used symbols from ordinary life and from familiar traditions, and much of his poetry in the 1890s continued to reflect his interest in Irish subjects.
During this decade he also became increasingly interested in poetic techniques.
At this time he also wrote 10 plays, and the simple, direct style of dialogue required for the stage became an important consideration in his poems as well.
He abandoned the heavily elaborated style of written in 1912, Yeats derided his 1890s poetic style, saying that he had once adorned his poems with a coat “covered with embroideries / Out of old mythologies.” The poem concludes with a brash announcement: “There’s more enterprise / In walking naked.” This departure from a conventional 19th-century manner disappointed his contemporary readers, who preferred the pleasant musicality of such familiar poems as “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” which he wrote in 1890.
O’Leary had a keen enthusiasm for Irish books, music, and ballads, and he encouraged young writers to adopt Irish subjects.
Yeats, who had preferred more romantic settings and themes, soon took O’Leary’s advice, producing many poems based on Irish legends, Irish folklore, and Irish ballads and songs.
There he wrote poems, plays, novels, and short stories—all with Irish characters and scenes.
In addition, he produced book reviews, usually on Irish topics.
Gonne shared Yeats’s interest in occultism and spiritualism.
Yeats had been a theosophist, but in 1890 he turned from its sweeping mystical insights and joined the Golden Dawn, a secret society that practiced ritual magic.