Both At the Hawk's Well (1917) and The Cat and the Moon (1924) dramatize their characters' journeys of the soul to magic wells. In At the Hawk's Well, the characters believe the miraculous well is a source of eternal life, but neither benefits from it. The play portrays the failure of its hero's quest in the Irish heroic age and makes clear W. B. Yeats's own preoccupation with aging, marriage, and perhaps waning inspiration. In The Cat and the Moon, the characters again put their faith in a magic well and the saint who guards it, and both are rewarded with miracles: it is a parodic repetition of the earlier play, but with a happy ending. The characters are satirical portraits of actual people, yet they are subject to the lunar cycles of personal and historical change.
The Cornell Yeats edition of these two plays presents photographs and transcriptions of the typescripts that the author prepared and revised, along with images of Lennox Robinson's musical settings for the songs in the 1931 performances of The Cat and the Moon. Andrew Parkin prefaces the texts with a census of manuscripts, an introduction discussing the content of the plays, the history of their composition and performance, and a chronology of their composition. In both plays, Yeats drew on the conventions of Noh theater, and he suggested that they be performed in a single evening (along with The Dreaming of the Bones).
The late Richard J. Finneran was Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Jared Curtis is Professor Emeritus of English at Simon Fraser University. Ann Saddlemyer is Professor Emeritus of Drama at University of Toronto and adjunct Professor of English at the University of Victoria.
Acknowledgments Abbreviations Census of Manuscripts Introduction Chronology of Manuscripts Transcription Principles and Procedures Part I: At the Hawk's Well Holograph Draft of Song Fragments for "The Well of Immortality": NLI 30,417 Holograph Draft of "The Well of Immortality": NLI 8773(3) a Holograph Fragments of Dialogue for "The Well of Immortality": NLI 30,187 Holograph Draft with Songs for "The Well of Immortality": NLI 8773(2) Holograph Fragments of a Later Version of At the Hawk's Well: NLI 8773(5) a Two Typescript Fragments from At the Hawk's Well: NLI 8773(3) b, c Revised Typescript of "At the Hawk's Well, or Waters of Immortality": NLI 8773(4) Holograph and Typescript Fragments of At the Hawk's Well: NLI 8773(5) b and NLI 8773(6) Annotated copy of At the Hawk's Well in To-Day (June 1917): Berg(2); with collations of marked proofs and publications through Complete Plays (1934) Part II: The Cat and the Moon Drafts of the Song, "The Cat and the Moon": NLI 13,587(22) Typescript of The Cat and the Moon: NLI 21,500 a; with collations of marked proofs and publications through Complete Plays (1934) Revised Ending to The Cat and the Moon Holograph Draft of New Ending: NLI 21,500 b Holograph Draft Extending New Ending: NLI 8774(23) Typescript of Revised New Ending: NLI 29,544 b Marked Proof of Finale: NLI 30,375 Appendix: Music Written for the Plays