I’ve just gotten to Dan Chiasson’s Cavafy review essay, “Man with a Past,” in the March 23 New Yorker, and as a huge Cavafy fan I was reading along happily until I got to this: “By 1902, his mother, his three brothers, his grandfather, and two of his closest friends had died. Perhaps in response to all that loss, he turned away from the somnambulism of his early work. (Yeats, distancing himself from his own early work, got it right: ‘In dreams begin responsibilities.’)” And then I was unhappy.
“In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” is one of the most famous American short stories, and it’s by Delmore Schwartz. I presume he modeled the title on Yeats, who preceded his collection Responsibilities with the epigraph “In dreams begins responsibility,” with the source given as “Old play.” Very similar, yes, and it’s easy to confuse them, but back in the glory days of the New Yorker they would not have allowed the mistake to get into print.
But James Longenbach, in his Stone Cottage: Pound, Yeats, and Modernism (Oxford UP, 1988), says the quote “is in fact from Nietzsche.” Anybody know any more about that?