Yone Noguchi in Yeats's Japan
Ezra Pound has long been credited with introducing William Butler Yeats to the Noh in 1913, but it was actually the Japanese poet Yone Noguchi (1875-1947) who first proposed Yeats should study the Noh, as early as 1907, when he published an article, “Mr Yeats and the No” in the Japan Times.
My discovery of this article, along with a group of hokku poems Yeats plagiarized from Noguchi, should significantly change our understanding of the intertextual dynamics of Yeats's Japanese interests. Although Yeats neglected to publicly acknowledge Noguchi, his cultural borrowings were not a one-sided “appropriation” or “discovery” as scholars have suggested, but part of a complex interchange in which both Noguchi and Yeats exploited cross-cultural commonalities toward analogous projects of cultural nationalism.
Noh and hokku provided Yeats with useful poetic and dramatic models rooted in an exotic tradition, while Noguchi credited Yeats's poems with ‘the sudden awakening of Celtic temperament in my Japanese mind’ and learned from the Irish poet how traditional forms could be revived, reinvented, and made relevant to modern audiences.
Dr. Edward Marx, Associate Professor of Euro-American Culture, Faculty of Law and Letters,