atheism · criticism · Francis Bacon · literature · Northrop Frye · religion · William Butler Yeats

The Melancholy Choice

If men are compelled to make the melancholy choice between atheism and superstition, the scientist, as Bacon pointed out long ago, would be compelled to choose atheism, but the poet would be compelled to choose superstition, for even superstition, by its very confusion of values, gives his imagination more scope than a dogmatic denial of imaginative infinity does. But the loftiest religion, no less than the grossest superstition, comes to the poet, qua poet, only as the spirits came to Yeats, to give him metaphors for poetry.

— Northrop Frye, The Anatomy of Criticism (second essay, p. 125)

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