October Blast (1927)
The Young Countryman
The Old Countryman
The Three Monuments
From Oedipus at Colonus
October Blast was published by the Cuala Press in August of 1927, only a year before the publication of The Tower. Eight of the poems featured in October Blast were later published in The Tower, including “Sailing to Byzantium” and “The Tower,” which remained the opening poems in all subsequent volumes.
The sequence of poems in October Blast follows an emotional impulse to reject aging and human trial. Although this is a desire which Yeats will explore more fully in The Tower, here the escapist impulse seems to ouweigh any feelings of “rootedness,” or ties to human experience, which characterize The Tower.
An important element of the Cuala Press publications is the prominent inclusion of Notes on the text. These Notes are presented in the same character style as the rest of October Blast, assigning these Notes equal importance as the poems themselves. Even as Yeats publishes his poems, he is providing annotation and context, anticipating how his readers will absorb and interpret his art. Yeats’s emphasis on Notes suggests that his text is not a finished product, but an evolving and shifting piece of work.
As in previous publications of the Cuala Press, Yeats’s October Blast concludes with a colophon, which draws attention to the careful construction and publication of this book. The colophon also mentions that only three hundred and fifty copies of October Blast were printed, presenting the volume as an exclusive art object, a deliberate antithesis to the mass-production of books, which Yeats so despised.