Selected Poems and Four Plays

ISBN: 0684826461
ISBN 13: 9780684826462
By: W.B. Yeats Macha Louis Rosenthal

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About this book

Since its first appearance in 1962, M. L. Rosenthal's classic selection of Yeats's poems and plays has attracted hundreds of thousands of readers. This newly revised edition includes 211 poems and 4 plays. It adds The Words Upon the Window-Pane, one of Yeats's most startling dramatic works in its realistic use of a seance as the setting for an eerily powerful reenactment of Jonathan Swift's rigorous idealism, baffling love relationships, and tragic madness. The collection profits from recent scholarship that has helped to establish Yeats's most reliable texts, in the order set by the poet himself. And his powerful lyrical sequences are amply represented, culminating in the selection from Last Poems and Two Plays, which reaches its climax in the brilliant poetic plays The Death of Cuchulain and Purgatory. Scholars, students, and all who delight in Yeats's varied music and sheer quality will rejoice in this expanded edition. As the introduction observes, "Early and late he has the simple, indispensable gift of enchanting the ear....He was also the poet who, while very much of his own day in Ireland, spoke best to the people of all countries. And though he plunged deep into arcane studies, his themes are most clearly the general ones of life and death, love and hate, man's condition, and history's meanings. He began as a sometimes effete post-Romantic, heir to the pre-Raphaelites, and then, quite naturally, became a leading British Symbolist; but he grew at last into the boldest, most vigorous voice of this century." Selected Poems and Four Plays represents the essential achievement of the greatest twentieth-century poet to write in English.

Reader's Thoughts

Stephanie Marie

a powerful glimpse into what was then the future of literature, with an added history lesson and analysis of the [still ongoing:] Irish-English political struggle.


he's the man


No matter who you are or what your interests, I can find at least one poem here that will move you deeply.


This elegant collection of the poet's work takes us from his early, idealistic times, to his final days and mortally aware literature. Yeats's poetry is hyper-representative of Ireland, oftentimes exhibiting anthropomorphic figures of the country in his tale-like sing-song rhyming structures and poetic plots. Interspersed throughout, though, are his heavy Irish revolutionary thoughts, his lover's laments (damn you, Maude Gonne), and his pensive final summation of life and art.There are some truly deep and beautiful poems in this collection, enough to make you read again and again. The four plays, included throughout, likewise mirror Yeats's fascination with Irish politics, literature and lore, and love.Perhaps Ireland's greatest poet (and THAT is a distinction), a collection of Yeats should be on every shelf.

J. Aleksandr Wootton

I read this collection too fast, a couple poems a night just before going to sleep, and that's not the way to read Yeats. You need resources nearby for looking up his references (unless you have a really strong background in classical literature, Irish mythology, and the past century and a half or so of the history of Ireland) to fully appreciate many of the poems in this collection.Nevertheless, much of what you can understand and some of what you can't, you are stirred by and love.


Many was the dreamy sigh I spent over this collection of poems and plays. Oh, darling William, keeper of my collegiate heart!


I have always been more acquainted with unorthodox and “avant-garde” literature. Lately I have been going back and reading some of the more traditional classics. I must say, at first I wanted to pull my eyes out while reading Yeats. He definitely has an unhealthy obsession with swift and although Keats, who as a poet is good, I feel he draws too much in his early writings from the deficient pathos I find in his works. Therefore as a self proclaimed “neo-romantic” I struggled through his early writings. Nevertheless his later works were superb! The hyperbolic romantic idealization wanes towards what the editor rightly describes as his writing of the soul through the body. In this vein I feel he redeems his prior convictions and breaks free from stylistic constraints as tactile emotions comingle with his more spiritual convictions. One must concede to him though an unrelenting optimism through the times of strife, however disillusioned I may feel it to be, as he continued his career.

Bobbi Martens

Some quite excellent poetry, some not so much. Reminds me some of T S Eliot. Many excellent one-or-two-liners in the middle of mediocre work. Lots of literary allusions, philosophical thoughts, historical mentions and theological stuff.

Mia McInnis

I sorely enjoyed this book, I love Yeats and having a chance to again re-read some of his works was a nice change of pace.


Hate it! all of it!


“Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.”-Yeats Do Not Love Too LongSWEETHEART, do not love too long:I loved long and long,And grew to be out of fashionLike an old song.All through the years of our youthNeither could have knownTheir own thought from the other's,We were so much at one.But O, in a minute she changed -O do not love too long,Or you will grow out of fashionLike an old song. The Lover Tells Of The Rose In His HeartALL things uncomely and broken, all things worn out and old,The cry of a child by the roadway, the creak of a lumbering cart,The heavy steps of the ploughman, splashing the wintry mould,Are wronging your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.The wrong of unshapely things is a wrong too great to be told;I hunger to build them anew and sit on a green knoll apart,With the earth and the sky and the water, re-made, like a casket of goldFor my dreams of your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.


One poem: Adam's Curse.


WBY is probably my favorite poet (it's close w/ Keats and Eliot). I think this collection gives a good intro to his works. My personal favorites are the Byzantium poems, which contemplate the role of the artist v/v death (cf. Shakespeare's sonnets).


still the best reading edition.

Maureen McKenna

The Wilde Swans at Coole... my favorite

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