Under the Moon: The Unpublished Early Poetry

Overview

While working on a facsimile edition and transcription of W. B. Yeats's surviving early manuscripts, renowned Yeats scholar George Bornstein made a thrilling literary discovery: thirty-eight unpublished poems written between the poet's late teens and late twenties. These works span the crucial years during which the poet "remade himself from the unknown and insecure young student Willie Yeats to the more public literary, cultural, and even political figure W. B. Yeats whom we know today." "Here is a poetry marked...

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Under the Moon

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Overview

While working on a facsimile edition and transcription of W. B. Yeats's surviving early manuscripts, renowned Yeats scholar George Bornstein made a thrilling literary discovery: thirty-eight unpublished poems written between the poet's late teens and late twenties. These works span the crucial years during which the poet "remade himself from the unknown and insecure young student Willie Yeats to the more public literary, cultural, and even political figure W. B. Yeats whom we know today." "Here is a poetry marked by a rich, exuberant, awk-ward, soaring sense of potential, bracingly youthful in its promise and its clumsiness, in its moments of startling beauty and irrepressible excess," says Brendan Kennelly. And the Yeats in these pages is already experimenting with those themes with which his readers will become intimate: his stake in Irish nationalism; his profound love for Maud Gonne; his intense fascination with the esoteric and the spiritual.
With Bornstein's help, one can trace Yeats's process of self-discovery through constant revision and personal reassessment, as he develops from the innocent and derivative lyricist of the early 1880s to the passionate and original poet/philosopher of the 1890s.
Reading-texts of over two dozen of these poems appear here for the first time, together with those previously available only in specialized literary journals or monographs. Bornstein has assembled all thirty-eight under the title Yeats had once planned to give his first volume of collected poems. Under the Moon is essential reading for anyone interested in modern poetry.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Eavan Boland This is a splendid and essential piece of editing and a poignant addition to Yeats scholarship.

Seamus Heaney This is completely entrancing material, showing Yeats as a very young man already enthralled by "the fascination of what's difficult" in art. George Bornstein edits lucidly and thoroughly, so that the book will appeal not only to Yeats specialists but to anyone with an interest in the choices and chances that contribute to poetic composition, and ultimately to the construction of a poetic identity.

Richard Wilbur These poems show that the early Yeats had a long way to go before he would come into his force. But they are also fascinating for their incipient themes and attitudes, and all scholars and devotees of Yeats must be grateful to George Bornstein for making them available.

Patricia Monaghan
ere is the fulfillment of a literary scholar's dream--previously unknown poems by one of the masters. They might have been just embarrassing juvenilia, of course, but at best, they would be a vital source for understanding a great poet's later glories and include a few poems worthy of the definitive editions. Happily, they are almost entirely the latter. Oh, there are a few poems of only academic interest that should give heart to aspiring poets anywhere; if Yeats could ever have written them, there is hope for lesser souls yet. There are earlier versions that were later improved: for example, "my life is under thy sad feet" was later transmuted into "Tread softly because you tread upon my dreams." Still other poems here were withheld from publication because they too rawly revealed Yeats' relationship with Maude Gonne; these include the marvelously moving "A Dream of a Life Before This One," in which the poet records one of his beloved's dreams: ". . . we went alone on our journey, and envied the grass-covered dead, / For Love had gone by us unheeding, a crown of stars on his head." A helpful introduction places the poems in their literary and biographical contexts.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684802541
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 8/28/1995
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 5.69 (w) x 8.74 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

William Butler Yeats is generally considered to be Ireland’s greatest poet, living or dead, and one of the most important literary figures of the twentieth century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Becoming W. B. Yeats 9
Notes to Introduction 23
Note on the Texts 27
1 A flower has blossomed 33
2 A double moon or more ago 34
3 Behold the man 35
4 Sir Roland 36
5 Sansloy - Sansfoy - Sansjoy 51
6 The Priest of Pan 52
7 The Magpie 53
8 'Mong meadows of sweet grain 55
9 I heard a rose on the brim 56
10 Hushed in the vale of Dagestan 57
11 For clapping hands 59
12 An Old and Solitary One 60
13 The Veiled Voices and the Questions of the Dark 61
14 A soul of the fountain 62
15 Cyprian 64
16 My song thou knowest 65
17 The world is but a strange romance 66
18 The Old Grey Man 67
19 The Dell 68
20 Inscription for a Christmas Card 69
21 Tower wind-beaten grim 70
22 Sunrise 72
23 Pan 74
24 Child's Play 75
25 I sat upon a high gnarled root 77
26 The dew comes dropping 79
27 The Outlaw's Bridal 80
28 Love's Decay 84
29 Wherever in the wastes 89
30 The Watch-Fire 93
31 To a Sister of the Cross and the Rose 94
32 The Pathway 95
33 He who bids 96
34 A Dream of a Life Before This One 97
35 He treads a road 98
36 On a Child's Death 99
37 I will not in grey hours 100
38 Though loud years come 101
Notes to the Poems 103
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