W. B. Yeats’s The Winding Stair and Other Poems was published in 1933 when Yeats was sixty-eight, ten years after he won the Nobel Prize and six years before his death in 1939. Yeats famously invoked in “Adam’s Curse” the time he spent “stitching and unstitching” the lines of his work, but he also spent considerable time stitching and unstitching his poems to each other. The Winding Stair demonstrates that care, combining and reordering the poems of two earlier publications in an edition intended as the companion volume to The Tower, published in 1928.
This Scribner facsimile edition reproduces exactly the pages of the elegantly planned and designed first edition of The Winding Stair and Other Poems as it first appeared, including a photo of the cover design on which Yeats collaborated. It adds an introduction and notes by celebrated Yeats scholar George Bornstein.
Yeats’s longest separate volume of verse, it features sixty-four poems written in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Among them are such masterpieces as “Blood and the Moon,” “Byzantium,” the Coole Park poems, “Vacillation,” and two separately titled long sequences ending with the exquisite lyric “From the ‘Antigone.’” These poems amply justify T. S. Eliot’s contention that Yeats was one of the few poets “whose history is the history of their own time, who are a part of the consciousness of an age which cannot be understood without them.”
About 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.
George Bornstein has written five critical books on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. A longtime student of material textuality, he has produced several major editions of modernist works, including two volumes on Yeats's early poetry for the Cornell Yeats Series and the collection Under the Moon: Unpublished Early Poetry by W. B. Yeats. He has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and serves as current president of the Society for Textual Scholarship. He is currently C. A. Patrides Professor of Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.