Selected Poetry

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

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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

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.

Kit Schooley

Haven't read Yeats for 40 years. Having been to Ireland, he knows how to writeof the tragedy that is Ireland. Dense, difficult and at times, rewarding.

Joyce

This collection of Yeats' poetry, stopping at the year 1914, omits some of his major works. The title should clarify the limitation of years since he really reached his peak as a poet after WWI

Ken Hicks

I've been reading Yeats since college, which is over forty years now. I have returned to the poems many times and my wife and I visited Ireland and went to some of the places mentioned in his poems. I loved Yeats when I first read and studied him and my feelings have only increased over the years as I have revisited poems. Lately, I have memorized a pair of them. I prefer to stick to the poems and not inquire too much about a person's political leanings, but I can understand why others may think differently on that subject.

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.

Cns

A fantastic edition--the Faber 80th anniversary poetry books--but the poems are a bit complex for me, as I don't have a degree in Irish history. "The Second Coming" will always be my favorite thanks to Stephen King, but "The Wild Swans at Coole" is haunting in a different way--especially as I get older. It's worth stumbling through some Irish history to get to these treasures.

Joan

Couldn't decide how many stars to give this collection of poems. Some of them I really liked, and a few I didn't like at all. Most were good, so I gave it a 3.

Elizabeth Fitzgerald

I enjoyed the first poems but the further I went into the volume the harder they were to understand and I found them rather inaccessible. I don't know a whole lot about Yeats and I think I would have preferred a volume with more annotation and commentary.

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.

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.

Ingrid Hansen

I'm not a great poems reader or lover, but a very friendly irish bookseller told med I had to read this if I wanted to read something by an irish writer when I visited Dublin in June 2012.It has taken me a long time time to get through this book but there is a beauty to the poems that touches you and that is the most important thing to me when I try to undestand what Yeats i writing about.

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.

Rikke

"For he would be thinking of loveTill the stars had run awayAnd the shadows eaten the moon."I am perhaps a very selective reader of Yeats' poetry. I do not like all of his poems, but some of them I love and cherish with all of my heart. Perhaps this is due to the fact that in order to understand the majority of his poems an extensive knowledge of Irish culture and mythology is required - which I sadly lack. And also, these poems are meant to be heard, and ideally to be read aloud in a soft Irish voice. The poems are so lyrically and melodically composed they in some ways can resemble the traditional Irish folksongs. I have settled upon a rating of 4 stars, as I do love Yeats and his fairytale-like poetry, which will draw you in and transport you to a long lost time of fairies, mermaids, unicorns and true magic. To read his poems is to feel a wave of blissful harmony wash over your mind and bury your troubles in a deep blue sea of ignorance."But I, being poor, have only my dreams;I have spread my dreams under your feet;Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

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.

Eleanor

One of the women I sing with is composing one of Yeats' poem, "Mother of God" for our choir, and I was so moved by the text that I thought I best read some of his other stuff. No real review yet, as I haven't actually had a chance to read any of the poetry, save a few things while I was sitting on the floor in Half-Price Books.

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