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William Butler Yeats

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William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats was born on June thirteenth, eighteen sixty-five, at ten-forty pm, in Sandymount, Dublin (Foster, 13). He grew up lanky, untidy, slightly myopic, and extremely thin. He had black hair, high cheek bones, olive skin, and slanting eyes (Foster, 34). It was presumed he was Tubercular. As a child he was ridiculed, mainly because of his Irish heritage (Foster, 16). He accomplished many things in his life time.

His whole family was highly artistic. He was the eldest of five siblings; Susan Mary, Elizabeth Corbet, Robert Corbet, John butler, and Jane grace. Robert Corbet died of croup in his childhood, and Jane Grace died of bronchial pneumonia when she was less then a year old. His father was John Butler Yeats who was a Pre-Raphaelite and his mother was Susan Mary Pollexfen. His brother, John Butler, grew up to become a well known painter, and his two sisters, Susan Mary and Elizabeth Corbet, were involved in the Arts and Crafts movements (Foster, 13).

Even though William's family moved around a bit he still received a pretty good education. His family moved from Sandymount, Dublin, to London in eighteen sixty-seven, due to his father's job. While there William entered the Godophin school, which he attended for four years. Then for financial reasons the Yeats family moved back to Dublin in late eighteen eighty. In October of eighteen eighty-one he started high school at Erasmus Smith High School, which he attended until eighteen eighty-three. After graduation he attended the Metropolitan School of Art from eighteen eighty-four to eighteen eighty-six. Then some time after 1913, during the civil War he attended Oxford (Yeats 1, 1).

He was a talented child. When he was thirteen, he won a prize for scientific knowledge competing against eighteen year olds. While he did good in school was never very good at Mathematics (Foster, 25). During high school, between the age of 15 and 16, was when he started writing poetry (Foster, 27). In eighteen eighty-five, his first poems and an essay called "The Poetry of Sir Samuel Ferguson" were published in the Dublin University Reviews. One of his friends at this time said that he would discipline himself to write two hours a day, whatever the outcome. By eighteen eighty-six he begun to publish regularly (Foster, 52).

The central theme of Yeats poems is Ireland, its history, contemporary public life, and folklore, as well as, Celtic folklore. He came to associate poetry with religious ideas and sentiments (Yeats 2, 1). He was interested in folktales as a part of an exploration of national heritage and Celtic identity. Yeats was fascinated with reincarnation, communication with the dead, mediums, spiritualism, supernatural systems, and oriental mysticism. He changed from suggestive, beautiful lyricism to tragic bitterness. (Yeats 1, 1). His early work tended towards romantic lushness and fantasy like quality, and eventually moved on to a more modern style (Yeats 2, 1).

William Butler Yeats was very devoted to writing. Early on in his career he studied William Blake's poem and Emanuel Swedenborg's writings and visionaries. In eighteen eighty-eight, "Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry" was published, which was a study he did with George Russell and Douglas Hyde (Yeats 1, 1).

He not only wrote poetry but was also very political. In eighteen eighty-six, he formed the Dublin Lodge of Heretic Society. Then in eighteen eighty-seven, he joined the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society, but later ended up resigning. A couple years later, in eighteen ninety-six, he reformed the Irish literary Society and the National Literary Society in Dublin. Then during the Civil War he became a Senator. Following this, in nineteen thirty-two, he founded the Irish Academy of Letters. As well as, being briefly involved with the Fascist Blue shirts, during nineteen thirty-three, in Dublin. As a politician he defended Protestant interests, and took pro-treaty stance against the Republicans (Yeats 1, 1).

William Butler Yeats had a some what interesting "love" life. In eighteen eighty-nine, he met Maud Gonne who was an actress and an Irish revolutionary. He thought she was his great love, but in nineteen o-three, she married Major John Macbride. Yeats had proposed to Maud Gonne, but he was obsessed with her daughter, Iseult, who turned him down. In nineteen seventeen, Yeats married Georgie Hyde-Lee. He shortly after, bought Thoor Ballyle, a derelict Norman stone tower near Coole Park. Once he restored it, the tower became their summer home and central symbol in his later poetry. They had a son and daughter. William and Georgie's notebooks formed the basis of "A Vision", which was a book of marriage therapy spiced with occultism (Yeats 1, 1).

William also wrote plays. He met Isabella Augusta, in eighteen ninety-seven, with whom he founded the Irish Literary Theatre. Then in eighteen ninety-nine, Yeats, Isabella, Martyn and George Moore founded the Irish Literary Theatre. It ended up being unsuccessful and only survived for about two years. Shortly after, Yeats, William and Frank Fay, and Annie Elizabeth Fredericka Horniman, Yeats' secretary, established the Irish National Theatre Society. They ended up opening the Abbey Theatre on December twenty-seventh, nineteen o-four. The Abbey Theatre was where Yeats' plays were featured (Yeats 2, 1). Yeats worked as a director of the Theatre to the end of his life, writing several plays for it (Yeats 1, 1).

William Butler Yeats had experienced a variety of illnesses for a number of years which lead to his death. He died on January twenty-eighth, nineteen thirty-nine, in Menton, France (Yeats 2, 1). He wrote more than three-hundred and seventy poems and eight plays. In 1923 he even won the Nobel prize for Literature (Yeats 1, 1). He is also one of the few poets who didn't write about the war. He is considered one of the greatest English poets of the twentieth century.

The Stolen Child

Where dips the rocky highland

Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,

There lies a leafy island

Where flapping herons wake

The drowsy water-rats;

There we've hid our faery vats,

Full of berries

And of reddest stolen cherries.

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,




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