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William Butler Yeats

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William Butler Yeats

- An Irish poet, dramatist, and prose writer

- Known for having intellectual and often obsucure poetry works

- Quoted to be "one of the greatest English-language poets of the 20th century"

- Even Received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923

o What was most recognizable about that fact is that he is famous for his lyrical poetic works that came after the prize

- Yeats war born in 1865 in Dublin

Yeats's childhood was broad in education and personal experiences. Yeats became a youth full of emotional contradictions. Spiritually, educationally, and personally, Yeats seemed to pull himself in different directions, unable to decide on a clear path. These internal contradictions would come to shape the writer and man that he would one day become.

o Father was a lawyer turned painter

o Art was no stranger in his family

o But his religious views were

His spiritual outlook played significant role in his life and his works. Born into a Protestant family, with a paternal grandfather and great-grandfather having been Anglican clergymen, religion was a constant presence in his childhood. Yeats began to abandon the religion of his Rationalist upbringing and made a new religion out of poetic tradition (Kunitz, 1560).

"You know what the Englishman's idea of compromise is? He says, some people say there is a God. Some people say there is no God. The truth probably lies somewhere between these two statements."

- In his youth he was very interested in the occult

- stemming from his fascination with Irish folk stories and tales

- Became increasingly interested Mysticism

o Specifically, Reincarnation, communication with the dead, mediums, supernatural systems, and oriental mysticism

 Much of his work was influenced by these factors

 "The mystical life is the centre of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write"

- 1886 Formed the Dublin Lodge of the Hermetic Society

o Donned the name Daemon est Deus Inversus

o Society discussed such issues as those listed above as well training onself to be a part of it

o Such magical training consisted of the learning of magical and esoteric symbols, correspondences, creating interrelationships between the seasons, various parts of the body, the five elements, colors, numbers, etc.

- time spent in college and much emotional growth and change

o Prompted his discovery of Ireland as a literary subject and his commitment to the cause of Irish national identity

o He sought in his writing to create a fresh tradition and a unique style. He attempted to create a literature that was Irish in subject matter and tone.


- 1910, Yeats's dramatic art took a sharp turn toward a highly poetical and mysterious style.

- His later plays were written for small audiences; they experimented with masks, dance, and music, and were profoundly influenced by the Japanese Noh plays. Although a convinced patriot, Yeats deplored the hatred and the bigotry of the Nationalist movement, and his poetry is full of moving protests against it

His recurrent themes are the contrast of art and life, masks, cyclical theories of life and the ideal of beauty and ceremony contrasting with the chaos of modern life.

Yeats had the unique ability to take fantasy, mysticism ,and the unknown and use it as an analogy to examine and explain the human condition

He died at the age of 73




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