William Butler Yeats - Life Stories, Books, and Links
Biographical Information

Stories about William Butler Yeats

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Picture of William Butler Yeats, poet and dramatist / playwright; twentieth century Irish Literature, poetry and drama
William Butler Yeats
(1865 - 1939)

Category:  Irish Literature
Born:  June 13, 1865
Dublin, Ireland
Died:  January 28, 1939
Roquebrune, France
Related authors:
J. M. Synge, Samuel Beckett, Sean O'Casey
list all writers
William Butler Yeats - LIFE STORIES
1/21/1939     Yeats At Rest
On this day in 1939, just a week before his death, W. B. Yeats wrote his last poem, "The Black Tower." Two decades earlier he had purchased a Norman tower near Coole, in Galway -- Thoor Ballylee. Since 1965 it has been a Yeats museum and a popular tourist spot, though not as popular as his gravesite in the Drumcliff churchyard of his ancestors -- where his own remains may or may not be buried.
6/13/1865     "Willy, it was always Willy..."
On this day in 1865 W. B. Yeats was born in the Sandymount area of Dublin. Until his mid-teens, Yeats's youth was mostly spent not in Dublin but divided between London and Sligo, on Ireland's Atlantic coast. The latter was the stronger influence, his portal to the story-spirit world that would be of such importance to his life and poetry.
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The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats
by William Butler Yeats, Richard J. Finneran (Editor)
anthology, poetry
The Plays
by David R. Clark (Editor), Rosalind E. Clark (Editor), William Butler Yeats
anthology, drama
The Secret Rose: Love Poems of W.B. Yeats
by A. Norman Jeffares (Editor), William Butler Yeats
anthology, poetry
Writings on Irish Folklore, Legend and Myth
by William Butler Yeats, Robert Welch (Editor)
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The Collected Letters of W.B. Yeats: 1865-1895
by John Kelly (Editor), Eric Domville (Editor)
W.B. Yeats: A Life: The Apprentice Mage 1865-1914
by R. F. Foster
Yeats: The Man and the Masks
by Richard Ellmann
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The Atlantic
A 1938 article celebrates the poet's accomplishments. With references to his literary development, and friends and influences. Also available on this website: commentary and audio recordings of the poem "Easter 1916," and reviews of biographies by R. F. Foster (The Apprentice Mage) and William M. Murphy (Family Secrets).

"The phenomenon of a poet who enjoys continued development into the beginning of old age is in itself rare. Goethe, Sophocles, and, in a lesser degree, Milton come to mind as men whose last works burned with the gathered fuel of their lives. More often development, in a poet, comes to a full stop .... We can trace, in Yeats, the continually enriched and undeviating course of an inspired man, from earliest youth to age. We can trace the rectitude of the spiritual line in his prose and poetry alike."
Academy of American Poets
Read a biography, poetry, and links. Selected poems include "Easter 1916," "The Lake Isle of Innisfree," "Leda and the Swan," "A Prayer for my Daughter," "The Second Coming," and "When You are Old."

"Yeats was deeply involved in politics in Ireland, and in the twenties, despite Irish independence from England, his verse reflected a pessimism about the political situation in his country and the rest of Europe, paralleling the increasing conservativism of his American counterparts in London, T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. His work after 1910 was strongly influenced by Pound, becoming more modern in its concision and imagery, but Yeats never abandoned his strict adherence to traditional verse forms. He had a life-long interest in mysticism and the occult, which was off-putting to some readers, but he remained uninhibited in advancing his idiosyncratic philosophy, and his poetry continued to grow stronger as he grew older."
BBC Interviews
An interview in which the poet discusses the work of Edith Sitwell, the effect of World War I, the revolutionary poet T.S. Eliot, the nature of Modern poets.

"In the third year of the War came the most revolutionary man in poetry during my lifetime, though his revolution was stylistic alone —- T.S. Eliot published his first book. No romantic word or sound, nothing reminiscent, nothing in the least like the painting of Ricketts could be permitted henceforth. Poetry must resemble prose, and both must accept the vocabulary of their time; not must there be any special subject-matter. Tristram and Isoult were not a more suitable theme than Paddington Railway Station. The past had deceived us: let us accept the worthless present … We older writers disliked this new poetry, but were forced to admit its satiric intensity. It was in Eliot that certain revolutionary War poets, young men who felt they had been dragged away from their studies, from their pleasant life, by the blundering frenzy of old men, found the greater part of their style."
William Butler Yeats, 1923 Nobel Prize in Literature
Yeats was awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." As the biography notes, "Yeats is one of the few writers whose greatest works were written after the award of the Nobel Prize. Whereas he received the Prize chiefly for his dramatic works, his significance today rests on his lyric achievement." Visit the official Nobel website for the full biography, Yeats's Nobel Lecture Banquet Speech, and other resources.
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March 18, 2018
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