The Collected Poems

ISBN: 0684807319
ISBN 13: 9780684807317
By: W.B. Yeats Richard J. Finneran

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About this book

The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats includes all of the poems authorized by Yeats for inclusion in his standard canon. Breathtaking in range, it encompasses the entire arc of his career, from luminous reworking of ancient Irish myths and legends to passionate meditations on the demands and rewards of youth and old age, from exquisite, occasionally whimsical songs of love, nature, and art to somber and angry poems of life in a nation torn by war and uprising. In observing the development of rich and recurring images and themes over the course of his body of work, we can trace the quest of this century's greatest poet to unite intellect and artistry in a single magnificent vision.Revised and corrected, this edition includes Yeat's own notes on his poetry, complemented by explanatory notes from esteemed Yeats scholar Richard J. Finneran. The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats is the most comprehensive edition of one of the world's most beloved poets available in paperback.

Reader's Thoughts

Angela Young

I love many of Yeats's poems (and I often wonder about the difference in pronunciation between the Irish Yeats and the English Keats ... if anyone can explain I'd love to know why one is ay and the other ee when the same two letters combine in their names. Perhaps it simply is a matter of pronunciation ... something this language is prone to, let alone what happens when different accents speak the words). But to the main point: I once heard two of the Cusacks reading from Yeats, Cyril and his daughter Sinead, I think it was, many years ago at Kenwood House in north London, and to hear those lyrical Irish voices reading this most lyrical of Irish poets was a treat indeed.My very favourite, and the poem that makes me cry every time I read it or hear it, is 'He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' (it's on page 68 of this edition). It speaks to us all, deeply, of trust and love, so much so that I included lines from it towards the end of Speaking of Love

Frank Hickey

Yeats opens our eyes. He shows us through myth and tall tale how he sees theworld. In spare matter-of-fact words, he shows how the poet's visionmakes everything possible. There are no limits to the imagination. The love poems such as "When You Are Old" or "The Pity Of Love"show his genius. He matches that with strident fighting poems that tell of thestruggle between England and Ireland. But wars and politics will always fade. His gift for word and metaphor stay with us always. Readers new to Yeats will delight in these poems. -----Frank Hickey, writer of the Max Royster crime novels of PigtownBooks.


I discovered Years last year during a university English unit. I am not a big fan of poetry but something about Yeats really resonated with me.


I still cannot read 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' without being transported to another (better) place. Yeats' integral contains amazing verses such as 'When you are old and grey and full of sleep,' and poems such as 'An Irish Airman Foresees His Death' which I cannot resist to quote below. The only problem with WB Yeats in that you cannot translate it to any other language. Well, OK, you cannot actually properly translate any good poetry, but WBY makes the case. An Irish Airman Foresees His Death I know that I shall meet my fateSomewhere among the clouds above;Those that I fight I do not hate,Those that I guard I do not love;My country is Kiltartan Cross,My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,No likely end could bring them lossOr leave them happier than before.Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,A lonely impulse of delightDrove to this tumult in the clouds;I balanced all, brought all to mind,The years to come seemed waste of breath,A waste of breath the years behindIn balance with this life, this death.


Yeats is the grumpy, head-shaking, Irish Grandpa I never had, and to be frank, that's probably something i'm slightly grateful for. If this anthology was personified, It would be a swan-headed elderly man shaking his walking stick and grimly staring at the outside world with scorn. Either that, or Dora the Explorer. Take your preference.Self-isolating, graced with a rather evasive superiority complex, and often pessimistic to the core, it is Yeats' strong and rigid narrative voice that mainly puts me off. Finding resonance in his syntax of self-criticism that has surpassed the physical body is exhausting, and his tone often becomes lethargic rather than evocative.Do not be mistaken, Yeats' poetry is flawless; his poetic sensibilities encompass the breadth of his personal experience, and his control of language, structure, and of rhythm are jealousy-inducing. His imagery is compelling in most aspects, and you can see the strain he faced in rectifying himself into his passion clearly in his work. Yet, it is this element that is also my biggest problem. On examination, peeling back his skin and staring into his pupils, i'm not overly enthusiastic by what I see. Rather than finding myself falling in love with a writer, my relationship with Yeats becomes weighed towards the opposite.What you need to bare in mind with this review is that I spent six months gruellingly evaluating Yeat's writing, and learning the collection down to the syllable, and so in no means am I taking away from the power of his craft. Rather, I just find it difficult to subtract my feelings to his poetry from the discussions I shared with my classmates, where we found him rather inspiring and creative, then rather self-detrimental and callous, and finally just irritating to read. In this manner, I guess i'm struggling to separate the writing from the writer, but there's very little I seem to be able to do to create this distance.Yeats was overcome with a deep infinity complex, omnipresent throughout his collection of work. To Yeats, a deeply horrifying prospect was age - and the detriment such a bodily disease could bring. Echoed through 'In memory' and 'Sailing to Byzantium', Yeats wanted to be eternal (as i'm sure we all do at some point in our lives). He wanted to be a relic of time, and essentially, this is what is poetry provides. However, although he may have met this requirement through the eloquence and popularity of his work, I find him falling short of the mark through a struggle to relate to his texts myself. Taking his inspiration from events most significant to him, his poignant understanding of age, mythology, love, loss, sensuality, sensibility and deep Irish heritage echoes throughout the binding of his collection. He is bleakly honest and insightful, and a true craftsman, weaving form and rhythm into his work without falling into the metronome drone or bludgeoning rhymes that could become synoptic with some of the subject matter. However, his opposition to the ageing process, science, democracy and modernisation read as less heroic and cultured, and more ignorant and stuck-in-his-ways. Similarly, his occultist and mythological answers to those problems read as quite anachronistic for a poet who died barely sixty years ago, and his notion that his poetry was only for the high classes makes him appear both egotistical and obtuse, whether he is correct or otherwise.I think the main issue here is a loss in translation, of such. For me, I feel as though a vital job of the poet is to emote, and whilst Yeats is exceptional at pulling his soul onto paper, his powers do not extend to making that mean anything to me. It's not that his writing is not beautiful; but rather, his feeling did not resonate outwardly, and his emotion appeared rather selfishly haphazard at best. Perhaps this is my own lack of experience, or his inability to weave the importance of a poetic piece through the passage of linear time. In many ways, some of the writings seem slightly selfish; they are combusting with emotion that we cannot feel, yet only witness before us.Also, i became exceedingly frustrated with his negativity and general pessimistic view of life. Despite many accomplishments among his successive failures, we are very much presented with a bitter elderly man with a lackluster approach to living, rather than a strong, resilient writer who shaped views and opinions and defined Ireland beneath the power of his writing. He writes to his detriment through this, as we are unable to see past the 'grumpy old man blaming the world for his problems' route Yeats has taken - he feels no responsibility for the loss of his love, nor does recognise that some powers are out of his control. Instead, he mirrors a belief that someone else is constantly to blame. He pines for a woman who has rejected him countless times, yet, cannot cease to blame her for each successive upset. He expresses his disdain of the lower classes and the uneducated, and goes as far to say that he hopes they do not read his work, and manages to generalize whole populations into stereotypical boxes.His work is inspiring, but not entirely as a whole. His interpretations of myth and folklore, of sculpted rhythm and rhyme (as seen in 'The Cat and The Moon') and of the terrifying process of age are extraordinary. But there is a self-indulgence in his writing that i cannot surpass. I'm obviously in the minority of opinion here, but i found much of his musing to be irritating and trivial, much of his woes of self-doubt to be disheartening rather than empathetic, and his constant negativity definitely began to take its toll on my mindset as a bludgeoned away at an essay of his work and decided i'd rather stick pins in my eyes. As a writer, he was exceedingly skilled. As an emotive writer, however, i feel as though something is missing in the space between appealing to others, and the privacy of sculpting himself into text.


If it were possible to award a book six stars out of a possible five, I would award it for this volume. I purchased this book last month in Galway, Ireland, and believe that it is not yet available in the US. The book contains Yeats’ complete and unabridged verse, exclusive of his plays. All the poems are arranged chronologically, and if one knows the poet’s biography it is thus easy to recognize allusions in the verses to what might otherwise be obscure, greatly enhancing one’s understanding and appreciation. Page after page reveals familiar quotations, often in broader contexts than might have been realized. Yeats employs a variety of rhyme schemes, when he uses rhyme at all, and careful reading of the poems often rewards the reader with approximate rhymes that might easily be missed. And the poet’s meters are also often approximate and irregular, so that the best reading is frequently to read right through the enjambments, minimizing any caesura at the end of lines. The poems can, of course, be read in any order, but reading the book cover to cover does provide a rich experience of Yeats’ life and his response to it, his poetic development, and a personal view of Irish history during his lifetime.The poetry contained herein is magnificent. Having just now finished the book, I have moved the ribbon back to the beginning and am ready to start again. Mention should be made of this delightful edition as an artistic product in itself. Published the Collector’s Library, this 4” by 6” book fits easily into a pocket, facilitating its availability for brief readings at any opportunity. The hardcover binding is real cloth, red embossed with gold lettering, and the page edges are gold leaf as well. And I always appreciate an attached ribbon for marking pages. What a delight to read and treasure this small but complete work.


What can one say about William Butler Yeats accept that he was an amazing poet! He is a true inspiration to anyone who longs to write from their heart, mind, and soul. My favorite poem of his is entitled "Sailing to Byzantium" and contains some of the greatest lines ever written in poetry. Here is just a snippet: THAT is no country for old men. The young In one another's arms, birds in the trees Those dying generations - at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unageing intellect. Read more and be absorbed!I took my time throughout the year to slip between the pages of this volume and travel where Yeats dared to take me.


One of my favorite poets.


Egocentric, patriotic, idealistic, tragic and in the end, disillusioned. He was an occultist, a public figure, an Irish folklorist, a Nobel Prize winner, anti-war activist. His poetry is blunt, complex, mystical and timeless all at once. They are meant to be read aloud.“Write for the ear, I thought, so that you may be instantly understood as when an actor or folk singer stands before an audience.” ---WB YeatsI know this had been quoted many times already, but nevertheless..He Wishes For The Cloths Of HeavenHad I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,Enwrought with golden and silver light,The blue and the dim and the dark clothsOf night and light and the half light,I would spread the cloths under your feet:But I, being poor, have only my dreams;I have spread my dreams under your feet;Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Anne Nikoline

The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats by William Butler Yeats has a gift for language even when the subject of his poetry devolves into repetition of Irish myths. His way with words is admirable, and even though I am not very religious, his poems about God and angles really got to me. There is no doubt that he is a Shakespeare with his words, but he is still rather good and very enjoyable on rainy days. My favourite poem also happens to be written by Yeats and it goes like this: A mermaid found a swimming lad, picked him for her own, pressed her body to his body, laughed; and plunging down, forgot in cruel happiness that even lovers drown. This, is magic.

Nick Black

When you hear a slouchIn your neighborhoodWhat troubles your sight?SPIRITUS MUNDI!(I ain't afraid of no rough beasts!)


When I was a junior in college minoring in music, I had to give a Voice Recital. In between my sets, I had a friend in the theatre department read some Yeats poetry. Yeats' poetry was as rich with ambiance and depth as any of the arias I sang. I was introduced to Yeats's poetry by the movie Memphis Bell, which quotes from one of this poets greatest poems, "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death." The poem, during only a few moments of film time,makes a profound contribution to the movie's emotional impact.This is a good edition for lover's of Yeats's poetry. I strongly recommend his work.


The reason everyone digs Shakespeare is not because he was the greatest writer in the modern English language, or because he was even the greatest playwright, but because he had a nice way of putting things, and people like to apply his pithy sentiments to their own lives. This is stupid, and I've never subscribed to the idea that you can or should evaluate literature based on its relation to or resonance with your own life and experience. If you must do so, however, please do yourself a favor and read Yeats instead of Shakespeare. Although perhaps less amusing in places, he has an incredible gift for language even when the subject of his poetry devolves into repetition of Irish myths. I disagree with his particular brand of Irish nationalism - the spirit and condition of such a troubled nation with an incredibly fractured identity cannot be depicted solely through the Irish Gaelic inheritance (and the poetic naming tradition does nothing to help this)- but the beauty of his language is undeniable, and his poetry is a very great pleasure to read.


I like Yeats, I think. Mostly because he likes Irish mythology and writes lots of poems about it - a basic knowledge of Irish myths is helpful, but not totally necessary.One of my favorites, for sheer Icky But Awesome Factor, is Leda and the Swan. My class spent nearly an hour discussing it and I almost understand it. "LEDA AND THE SWANA sudden blow: the great wings beating stillAbove the staggering girl, her thighs caressedBy the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.How can those terrified vague fingers pushThe feathered glory from her loosening thighs?And how can body, laid in that white rush,But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?A shudder in the loins engenders thereThe broken wall, the burning roof and towerAnd Agamemnon dead.Being so caught up,So mastered by the brute blood of the air,Did she put on his knowledge with his powerBefore the indifferent beak could let her drop?"Read for: Modern Poetry

Karen Jean Matsko Hood

I read this collection of poems and once again get excited about poetry and wish that there was more poetry lovers in the world as it is indeed good for the soul! Karen Jean Matsko HoodThe Collected Poems

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