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 withthe beautiful Irish 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.
About the Author
Table of ContentsINTRODUCTION
EARLY POEMS I: BALLADS AND LYRICS:
To Some I Have Talked with by the Fire - The Song of the Happy Shepherd - The Sad Shepherd - The Cloak, The Boat, and The Shoes - Anashuya and Vijaya - The Indian Upon God - The Indian to His Love - The Falling of the Leaves - Ephemera - The Madness of King Goll - The Stolen Child To An Isle in the Water - Down by the Salley Gardens - The Meditation of the Old Fisherman - The Ballad of Father O’Hart - The Ballad of Moll Magee - The Ballad of the Foxhunter
EARLY POEMS II:
THE ROSE: To the Rose Upon the Rood of Time - Fergus and the Druid - The Death of Cuchulain The Rose of the World - The Rose of Peace - The Rose of Battle - A Faery Song - The Lake Isle of Innisfree - A Cradle Song - The Pity of Love - The Sorrow of Love - When You Are Old - The White Birds - A Dream of Death - A Dream of a Blessed Spirit - The Man Who Dreamed of Faeryland - The Dedication to a Book of Stories Selected from the Irish Novelists - The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner - The Ballad of Father Gilligan - The Two Trees To Ireland in the Coming Times
THE WIND AMONG THE REEDS: The Hosting of the Sidhe - The Everlasting Voices - The Moods - The Lover Tells of the Rose in His Heart - The Host of the Air - The Fisherman - A Cradle Song - Into the Twilight - The Song of Wandering Aengus - The Song of the Old Mother - The Fiddler of Dooney - The Heart of the Woman - The Lover Mourns for the Loss of Love - He Mourns for the Change that Has Come Upon Him and His Beloved and Longs for the End of the World - He Bids His Beloved Be At Peace - He Reproves the Curlew - He RemembersForgotten Beauty - A Poet to His Beloved - He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes - To My Heart Bidding It Have No Fear - The Cap and Bells - The Valley of the Black Pig - The Lover Asks Forgiveness -Because of His Many Moods - He Tells of a Valley Full of Lovers - He Tells of the Perfect Beauty- He Hears the Cry of the Sedge - He Thinks of Those Who Have Spoken Evil of His Beloved - The Blessed - The Secret Rose - The Lover Mourns Because of His Wanderings - The Travail of Passion - The Lover Pleads with His Friend for Old Friends - A Lover Speaks to Hearers of His Songs in Coming Days - The Poet Pleads with the Elemental Powers - He Wishes His Beloved were Dead - He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven - He Thinks of His Past Greatness When a Part of the Constellations of Heaven
IN THE SEVEN WOODS:
In the Seven Woods - The Arrow - The Folly of Being Comforted - Old Memory - Never Give All the Heart - The Withering of the Boughs - Adam’s Curse - Red Hanrahan’s Song About Ireland - The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water - Upon the Moon - Chorus for a Play - The Players Ask for a Blessing of the Psalteries and Themselves - The Happy Townland
THE OLD AGE OF QUEEN MAEVE:
The Old Age of Queen Maeve
BAILE AND AILLINN:
Baile and Aillinn
THE GREEN HELMET AND OTHER POEMS:
His Dream -A Woman Homer Sung - The Consolation - No Second Troy - Reconciliation - King and No King - Peace - Against Unworthy Praise - The Fascination of What’s Difficult - A Drinking Song - The Coming of Wisdom with Time - On Hearing that the Students of Our University Have Joined the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Agitation Against Immoral Literature - To a Poet, Who Would Have Me Praise Certain Bad Poets, Imitators of His and Mine - A Lyric from an Unpublished Play - Upon a House Shaken by the Land Agitation - At the Abbey Theatre - These Are the Clouds- At Galway Races - A Friend’s Illness - All Things Can Tempt Me - The Young Man’s Song
Introductory Rhymes - The Grey Rock - The Two Kings - To a Wealthy Man Who Promised a Second Subscription to the Dublin Municipal Gallery if it Were Proved the People Wanted Pictures - September 1913 - To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing - Paudeen - To a Shade - When Helen Lived - The Attack on the “Playboy of the Western World”, 1907 - The Three Beggars - The Three Hermits - Beggar to Beggar Cried - The Well and the Tree - Running to Paradise - The Hour Before Dawn - The Player Queen - The Realists I. The Witch II. The Peacock - The Mountain Tomb - To a Child Dancing in the Wind - A Memory of Youth - Fallen Majesty - Friends - The Cold Heaven - That the Night Come - An Appointment - The Magi - The Dolls - A Coat - Closing Rhymes