(1865 - 1939)
“Tread Softly Because You Tread on My Dreams”

 William Butler Yeats is undoubtedly one of the greatest English language poets of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries  Born into an Anglo Irish family and growing up in both London and Dublin, Yeats refused the Protestantism of his heritage and the Catholicism of much of Ireland, instead choosing to embrace the Ireland of myth and folklore, of  mysticism and paganism.  When writing his notes about The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems in the 1908 edition of Collected Works, Yeats wrote “ I never go for the scenery of a poem to any country but my own” and “ When writing I went for nearly all my subjects to Irish folklore and legends”. Whilst in London in the 1880’s Yeats met and fell in love with Maud Gonne, suffragette and Irish Nationalist, with whom he had a turbulent relationship which lasted for the following 30 years.  She greatly influenced his own political ideals and encouraged his love of and belief in a free Ireland, which in turn influenced much of his work.  She was the muse for much of his poetry and he dedicated  his first play, Countess Kathleen, to her.  Witten in blank verse, the play had a profound effect on the young James Joyce, to such an extent that he set part of it to music, which he then included  in Ulysses and “praised it as the best lyric in the world."

Over a period of 50 years, Yeats produced a body of work full of passionate lyricism, from the lush language of the Pre-Raphaelite tradition of his early poems to the symbolism and austere mysticism of his later poems and plays.

 In 1923 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature "for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation"

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Books by this author

The Shadowy Waters



Collected Works