W. B. Yeats's understanding of Chinese arts and poetics is best presented in his poem “Lapis Lazuli,” in which he parallels European arts and Chinese arts, displaying a West–East contrast in terms of creative perception, poetic form, and aesthetic essence. Firstly, the poem shows a shift of perception from the personal to aesthetic and finally to Chinese Xujing (虚静) through adjusting the distance between arts and reality and changing literary concerns. Secondly, there is a formal contrast between European symbolism and Chinese Yixiang (意象), revealing the difference between well-designed symbol arrangement, the natural unification of life perception, and the image of things. Thirdly, the differences between the West/East aesthetic essences are revealed through a contrast between the Western intellectual–physical division and Chinese human nature unification. A reading of Yeats's “Lapis Lazuli” from a Chinese poetic perspective will help deepen apprehension of Yeats's universal perception of arts, civilizations, and life.

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