Selected Poetry

ISBN: 0451526589
ISBN 13: 9780451526588
By: W.B. Yeats

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20th Century Classics Currently Reading Default Favorites Ireland Irish Literature Poetry To Read

About this book

William Butler Yeats was not only one of the most beloved and honored poets of this century. Playwright, essayist, theatrical impresario, occultist, politician, famously hapless lover�he was also one of the most colorful and complex. Astonishingly, no full biography of Yeats has appeared in many years. Now, Keith Alldritt gives us a lively telling of Yeats's story that puts the poet in the context of his times, from the high Victorian era to the modernism of the thirties.Alldritt reveals that Yeats was not just "the sensitive introvert who began as the mooning dreamer and after a lifetime seeking philosophical and hermetic wisdom, ended as the learned sage" that Yeats himself and his biographers would have us believe. He shows us a less familiar man: "a dedicated careerist, an ambitious man of determined self-interest, a seeker after social standing, and a combative man with a violent temper that sustained him in many nasty quarrels." Confrontational, scrappy, driven, he was deeply involved in both the political and literary issues of his day. He was instrumental in overturning the English domination of Irish literature and in researching and publishing books on Irish lore and fairy tales. He was the founder, with George Bernard Shaw, of the Irish Institute of Arts and Letters as well as the Abbey Theatre, where he refused to close down Synge's inflammatory play The Playboy of the Western World, despite riots in the street. During his tenure as senator in the Irish Parliament, he fought the Catholic divorce laws. At every level, Alldritt shows us a poet engaged in the world. Yeats's long, passionate, and physically unrequited love affair with the beautifulIrish nationalist Maud Gonne, which led to some of his most poignant poetry, is brought vividly to life. Also covered in some detail are Yeats's numerous love affairs in the years before his death. Though condoned by his wife, they have not been explored in previous biographies out of respect for her feelings.Another aspect of Yeats not generally appreciated is his involvement with literary movements outside Ireland and England. He wrote reviews for the Boston Globe; lectured regularly throughout the United States; and spent much time in France, where he was influenced by the symbolist poets, and in Italy, where he joined the Rapallo group led by the quixotic Ezra Pound. In his years of research, Alldritt visited libraries worldwide. He was given special access to Yeats's private papers in the National Library of Ireland and interviewed many people who knew or are knowledgeable about Yeats, most notably Yeats's daughter, Anne. Yeats has been called "the greatest poetic imagination of our century." Now Keith Alldritt reveals another facet of his extraordinary persona. William Butler Yeats was a master craftsman, and one of his most skillful constructs was his own image. He wished to be remembered, above all, as an Irishman and a poet; as a man whose nature had been determined by the almost magical qualities of his childhood in Sligo and whose character had been shaped by the influence of admirable men. There is truth in this depiction of himself, but it is a partial truth only.In this account, I attempt to go beyond his interior world and to evoke and do justice to those individuals and external forces which in their turn made up part of the dialectic of Yeats's life. Yeats lived at a time of profound changes for the Western world from the high Victorianism of the late 1800s to the advent of modernism in the 1930s. I have attempted to offer a strong sense of Yeats in his social and historical context�to show that an important side of his genius was his deep and often manipulative relationship with the turbulent life around him as with his turbulent life within.

Reader's Thoughts

Ladypoet33

My favorite:An AppointmentBy. W.B. YeatsBeing out of heart with governmentI took a broken root to flingWhere the proud, wayward squirrel went,Taking delight that he could spring;And he, with that low whinnying soundThat is like laughter, sprang againAnd so to the other tree at a boundNor the tame will, nor timid brain,Nor heavy knitting of the browBred that fierce tooth and cleanly limbAnd threw him up to laugh on the bough;No government appointed him.What more can I say? The poem speaks for itself of that longing for freedom from government.

TeacherMrLoria

He wished for the Cloths of Heaven. The Man who Dreamed of Faeryland. No Second Troy. Wild Swams at Coole. Meditations in Time of Civil War "only an aching heart, conceives a changless work of art." What Then?

Joanna Paterson

I picked this up and dipped into it while on holiday in Ireland - I couldn't claim to have 'read' it though I'm not sure you ever completely read a book of poems though.I enjoyed the poems I discovered through this selection and can see there are some I want to return to. Some of the poems about Ireland helped to enrich my understanding of some of the issues of Irish history that I was learning about while travelling in and visiting the country

Anna

I bought this about five years ago for a project and have just now gotten around to reading it. I started it feeling very excited - Yeats is so lyrical and imaginative and so obviously enamored with nature and myths. His poetry is so beautiful. But I think as I continued through the book, I found it harder to understand a lot of his poems. Many of them seemed to go all over the place or refer to myths and gods I am unfamiliar with. It made reading the poetry more like a chore. All in all, the poems I loved, I REALLY loved. The poems I didn't so much care for were more because I failed to understand them, and I never like putting a whole lot of effort into understanding poetry.-Favourite Poems-"The Cloak, The Boat, and The Shoes""The Indian Upon God""Ephemera""The Rose of Peace""The Host of the Air""The Song of Wandering Aengus""To a Poet, Who Would Have Me Praise Certain Bad Poets, Imitators of His and Mine""A Lyric from An Unpublished Play""To a Child Dancing in the Wind""Fallen Majesty"

Anthony D Buckley

It's the first time I have really looked at Yeats's poetry. Perhaps not surprisingly, I found the famous ones the most enjoyable. Some, of the other I found remarkably clumsy and poorly expressed. Perhaps this is why they didn't become famous. He sometimes takes to mentioning or even listing people's names and place names as though this were evocative or impressive. Part of my problem is that I am rather out of sympathy with the man and his period. An interesting exercise nevertheless. I liked Jeffares' introduction, which was clear and intelligent.

Elizabeth

Read many of these poems before in different classes. . . taking Irish Lit. this semester so needing to revisit them! Don't really like poetry so i can't rate this book but I do LOVE the symbolism he incorporates in his poetry(having to do with Irish history. . .)These are my favorites The Second Coming Easter 1916(not in this book but my favorite yeats poem!) Setpember 1913No Second Troy When you are old The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

Carolyn

Before visiting Ireland last year, I read a book of Irish verse. And there's a lot of it... the Irish write poetry like they drink whiskey. However, one poet stands out beyond the others. Yeats is one of the world's exemplars of modernism. His poems transcended the Irish landscape, history, and folklore that gave birth to them. He was prolific, and there's plenty of early dreck, so I recommend the Selected Poems for the best examples.

Milica

the magic is lost in translation

h

i haven't read a big chunk of yeats ever, just a few poems here and there in anthologies or for school. the feel of his work is different when taken this way. the rhythm of his writing is really stunning -- something to aspire to, although i doubt i could ever have his metrical command. one of my favorite snippets is the phrase "converse bone to bone."

Tracy

I read many of the poems years ago -- grad school, what else? -- but I still love to teach and read Yeats. I needed one of his early, embarassing poems that is mentioned in a book I was teaching. The poem I needed was one of his that inspired the Wikipedia entry that says his poetry became better as he aged, unlike many poets.That much is certain.I do drag this book out from time to time. Not that long ago, we read poems of his outloud during a dinner party. We all thought he meant different things by Sailing to Byzantium and Byzantium. Oh the poem and book? It was from The Wind Among the Reeds. It's mentions in An Evening of Long Goodbyes for the quote that I can't find this moment, but it's something like, The shape of ugly things is too awful to talk about (?)

Bethan

I feel so guilty because I want to like Yeats but while there are one or two amazing poems, like 'Leda and the Swan' and 'An Irish Airman Forsees His Death', or one or two that are very interesting and strikingly expressed, like 'The Second Coming' or 'The Circus Animal's Desertion', overall, I find Yeats boring a lot of the time and a bit repugnant for his conservative nature, such as his nationalism. I found it hard to concentrate and understand a lot of his poems and I didn't really come away feeling like he'd deeply touched me and got to my heart (like Paul Verlaine) or said something amazing (like Baudelaire). Maybe I just expected more of this poet that is so routinely hailed as one of the greatest, in this English-language country, and I need to go back and spend more time with his poetry. Well, I see it; I just don't feel or think it.

Leslie

Beautiful poetry. The focus is largely on Irish history, but I think behind that is a genuine search for what is most important in life. Though I appreciated the beautiful language and what I thought the message was, I still felt like much of it went over my head.

Martin Davies

What has always struck me about Yeats is how reality and surrealism mix in his poetry: his poetry hangs between the perceivable world of phenomena and the natural world and the world f dreams and the subconscious on the other hand; the two mix in a solution which only Yeats can give us. This makes Yeats difficult to understand, of course: his poems cannot be understood at first reading, not at least form me; they require careful study, sometimes they even escape analysis, you need to put them down and come back to them at a later stage, but, boy, when you crack one of his poems it is as if a whole new world opened its doors to you. Utter genius.

Felix Purat

Overall, I would say that the poems Seamus Heaney chose to represent his tower-dwelling predecessor William Butler Yeats were very well chosen, though I don't know enough about Yeats' other poems to make a more sound judgment. Suffice to say that what was here was beautiful, including the Fiddler of Dooney, now one of my favourite poems of the sort Yeats wrote. Certainly an interesting way to introduce oneself to the world of Yeats, and well formatted as well as they are not typed in that scrunched typing style "classic" poetry often finds itself.

Laura Esther Rivers

This was a strange one for me...very on and off. Still undecided if I would call myself a 'fan' of his work. Some of his poetry delights me, the rest I would have happily skimmed through. I didn't skim however, just wanted him to redeem himself...but he failed.

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