21.6 x 13.8 cm 255 pp. 1989
W.B.Yeats is one of the most important and widely-read poets of the twentieth century, occupying a central position in literature courses throughout the world. Yet he is often presented in critical works as a ‘difficult’ poet who can only be understood by reference to other writings that must be used as keys to unlock the mysteries of his work. It is the belief of the authors of this book that the poetry must be approached on its own terms, and its meanings established in as simple a way as possible before these texts can be enriched by knowledge of the biographical, historical, philosophical or aesthetic contexts.
This book is an essential companion to the poetry of Yeats for students in every country where his work is known. It sets out to meet the demands both of those whose first language is English, and of those for whom it is their second. Consequently the core of this volume is a detailed study of some ninety poems which cover all phases of Yeats’s poetic development. Each poem is provided with a summary, glossary and commentary, based on the primary meaning. The poems are also set in both the immediate context of the collections in which they were first published, and the wider context of the evolution of Yeats’s art and philosophy.
The Companion has a general commentary section dealing with Yeats’s style, his symbolism, his vision, the people and places that appear in his works, and the role of magic, myth, legend, history, civilization, nationalism and politics in the poems. There is also a useful list of recommended works, and basic texts.