Yeats and establishing an art for your own people

I’m finding a collection of essays by Yeats (so far the only poet I’ve found that I consistently enjoy), really interesting.

I thought one day—I can remember the very day when I thought it—’ If somebody-could make a style which would not be an English style and yet would be musical and full of colour, many others would catch fire from him, and we would have a really great school of ballad poetry in Ireland. If these poets, who have never ceased to fill the newspapers and the ballad-books with their verses, had a good tradition they would write beautifully and move everybody as they move me.’

Then a little later on I thought, ‘ If they had something else to write about besides political opinions, if more of them would write about the beliefs…, or about old legends…, they would find it easier to get a style.’

Then, with a deliberateness that still surprises me, for in my heart of hearts I have never been quite certain that one should be more than an artist, that even patriotism is more than an impure desire in an artist, I set to work to find a style and things to write about that the ballad writers might be the better.

-W.B. Yeats, What is ‘Popular Poetry’?

This sounds remarkably similar to Tolkien writing his Middle Earth history so as to provide England with the ancient mythology it was sorely missing.

Aaron Copeland tried to write distinctly ‘American’ music to escape the gravitation pull of Europe.

I think we all long to make our mark on history and be somewhat distinct on this earth. This desire can extend beyond ourselves to our friends, community, and even nation (patriotism). Sci-fi explores this as the race of man making it’s mark on the universe. I think This has more religious implications than at first glance.