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Remembering William Butler Yeats:
June 13, 1865–January 28, 1939

William Butler Yeats, 1865-1939

170 words

William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet, playwright, and politician, was born on this day in 1865. One of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century, Yeats’ life and work straddle the great divide between Romanticism and Modernism. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.

In life and in art, Yeats rejected modern rationalism, materialism, and egalitarianism. He saw them as coarsening and brutalizing.

Spiritually, Yeats was drawn to mysticism and the occult, influenced in particular by Emanuel Swedenborg and William Blake. Politically, like so many great literary artists of the first half of the 20th century, Yeats was drawn to fascism. To learn more about Yeats’ life, art, and politics, see the following works on this site:

Share your favorite Yeats poems below.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted June 17, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    “like so many great literary artists of the first half of the 20th century” Yes, I would say that the artist’s concern with order is paramount. I see a grand reactionary wave rising from the Fr. Revolution, so many great writers in the age of Democracy in the final analysis belong more to the right–a fact that the left simply refuses to or is too inconvenient to risk reckoning with: Coleridge, Wordsworth, Schelgels/German Romanticism, Austen, Balzac, Poe, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Hawthorne, G. Eliot, Dostoyevsky, H. James…through Hamsun, Pound, Eliot, Yeats, Lawrence, Conrad, Broch, Powys, Celine, Rilke, Cather, Faulkner, Frost, Waugh, Borges…many more on and on until it’s merciless

  2. Steffen Nunez
    Posted June 13, 2018 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Did not know yeats was a man of the right thanks again counter currents!

  3. Sanger Rainsford
    Posted June 13, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    “The Fascination of What’s Difficult”
    BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

    The fascination of what’s difficult
    Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent
    Spontaneous joy and natural content
    Out of my heart. There’s something ails our colt
    That must, as if it had not holy blood
    Nor on Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud,
    Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and jolt
    As though it dragged road metal. My curse on plays
    That have to be set up in fifty ways,
    On the day’s war with every knave and dolt,
    Theatre business, management of men.
    I swear before the dawn comes round again
    I’ll find the stable and pull out the bolt.

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