W.B. Yeats was the son of a portraitist of exceptional gifts. This essay ponders the argument, and at rare moments the agreement, between father and son in relation to poetry’s ability to provide a reader with the (illusion of the) real presence of people and things. Such a sense is rare in Yeats’s writing but not unknown—and it is always thought-provoking. The essay examines important occasions of such presence and finds them most conflicted in poems addressing the Easter Rising and the Irish Civil War. It is in the poetics of presence, the essay concludes, that something of the real aesthetic divisions between John Butler Yeats and William Butler Yeats can be felt.