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

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

Matt

I think Yeats at his best is fantastic, as some individual poems are absolutely magnificent. There were occasional times in reading this collection where I had to stop, and read something again to make sure it was exactly as incredible as I had thought it was the first time. It always was. The problem was that poems like that are kind of few and far between. For every great poem there are three or four pages worth that just didn't speak to me at all. This isn't to say that they are totally without merit. Perhaps with further study I could come to see the genius of all the poems in this book, but as it stands, I didn't think most of it was great. When at his best, there are some incredible poems here. More often, the poetry is fine, but not extraordinary. Its inconsistent, to me.

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.

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.

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.

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"

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.

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.

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."

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.

lauren

favorite. poet. ever.i blame it all on the second coming.but oh godthat last stanza gives me chills every time i read it. or write it. or think it. such amazing imagery, such beautiful words.

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.

PastAllReason

A collection selected by Seamus Heaney with an excellent introduction written by Heaney about Yeats and his poetry. The collection includes all of my favourites by Yeats, and a few I hadn't previously read.

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."

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