Who Goes With Fergus?

by Pericles Lewis

The short lyric “Who Goes With Fergus?” (1892) is representative of William Butler Yeats‘s symbolist phase, in which he aimed, not at the simple one-to-one correspondences of allegory, but at a more subtle symbolism, resistant to decipherment. In this short lyric, “love’s bitter mystery” and the mysteries of poetry are symbolized by the various aspects of the natural world governed by the mythical Irish poet-king Fergus: “For Fergus rules the brazen cars, / And rules the shadows of the wood, / And the white breast of the dim sea, / And all dishevelled wandering stars.” The poem’s shadowy, liminal imagery suggests rather than describes the infinite vista of Fergus’s kingdom, which is not of this world.[1]

  1. ↑ This page has been adapted from Pericles Lewis’s Cambridge Introduction to Modernism (Cambridge UP, 2007), p. 58.