Happy Birthday William Butler Yeats!

Today is the birthday of the Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats (b. 1865 – 1939).  He was the brother of the artist Jack Butler Yeats (see my post on him over at echostains) Dublin born and educated, the poet spent his childhood in Sligo.  Yeats was to become a real driving force behind the Irish Literacy revival.

William Butler Yeats

 

Yeats interest in Irish folk law and the occult resonate throughout his earlier poetry which is  tends to be slow-paced and shows the influences of Percy Byshe Shelley, the Pre Raphaelite poets and Spencer. His later poetry tends to be more physical but I feel that although the poetry it is perhaps more earthed, the poet still ponders the question of mortality and seeks to reach fundamental truths.

Yeats has the honour of being the first Irishman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  He was one of the original founders of the Abby Theatre and at one time, also served as its chief.

Yeats own family

Yeats came from a very artistic family.  His brother Jack was a highly regarded painter and his two sisters, Elizabeth and Susan Mary became involved with the Arts and Crafts movement. 

Jack Butler Yeats

Much has been written about this fascinating poet and his interesting life, but his poems speak for themselves.  They still stand today as some of the most lyrical, imaginative poetry ever written, in my opinion.

Here is a short film of four short poems by William Butler Yates;-

The Converstaion

Never give all the Heart

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

The Irish Airman Forsees his Death

 All four are read very movingly in the rich accent of Quincy Dubois and accompanied by the beautiful music of Colin Reid (who I have just discovered).  I was transported by the unique combination of poem, voice, music and images in this video.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

More about the life o f William Butler Yeats here

Poems by William Butler Yeats here 

Video by   – with thanks!

The National Library Of Ireland which features an interactive online exhibition of the poet and where you can hear his poems read is brilliant! Here

Images from here and here, also from here and here

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2 Responses to “Happy Birthday William Butler Yeats!”

  1. dear lynda,

    thanks so much for featuring William Butler Yeats, personally his sentimental and poignant poems were strong influences for hundreds, or even thousands of poets, from generation to generation. i will be most likely, to check some of your recommended readings and enjoy this purely literary delight.

    thanks again.

    • William Butler Yeats has become a real favorite of mine now Marvin – I’m so glad you like him too! I’ll be featuring some more poets soon which I hope you’ll enjoy too 🙂 Your readership is appreciated 🙂

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