W.B.Yeats (1865-1939) published his first volume of poetry in 1889. Deeply influenced by Spiritualism and Celtic mythology, he was a crucial figure in the Irish cultural revival of the 1890s. Under the influence of Maud Gonne he became involved in nationalist politics, but the Philistinism of the emerging Ireland repelled him, and he gradually drew back from public affairs. He had been a co-founder, with J.M.Synge and Lady Gregory, of the Abbey Theatre in 1904, and remained a director until the end of his life. His increasingly sceptical and pessimistic views on Ireland were temporarily reversed by the 1916 Rising. Out of the confusion and tensions of the following decade his greatest poetry developed: almost uniquely among major poets, his outstanding work was written in the second half of his life. In 1917 he had married George Hyde-Lees; they had two children. He died in the South of France, and in 1948 his body was brought back to Ireland and re-interred in Drumcliffe Churchyard, Co.Sligo.
This is a revised and enlarged edition of the work first published in 1983. On its first appearance it received exceptional reviews:
'Perceptive, honest and stimulating, subtly educating the uninformed reader in the best ways to approach a study of Yeats's verse, plays and letters.' Richard Allen Cave in British Book News
'A remarkable achievement. He has succeeded in presenting a rational, sensitive account of the life of Ireland's most famous poet....Well worth reading by the scholar and the general reader.' Ireland of the Welcomes
'A tour de force. Lucid and incisive, it gives us a convincing picture of Yeats's life in all its complexities, and it does so with insight and sympathy.' A. Norman Jeffares in The Yorkshire Post
`A remarkable synthesis of a huge topic, written with enthusiasm and flair and ending with a splendid essay on the poet's "close companions", his great capacity for friendship and for converting the experience into poetry.' Thomas Kilroy in The Irish TimesMore info →