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:
- Kerry Bolton, “W. B. Yeats” (from Artists of the Right)
- Jonathan Bowden, “W. B. Yeats“
- Greg Johnson, “Yeats’ Pagan Second Coming” (Translations: German, Spanish)
- Vic Olvir, “William Butler Yeats: A Poet for the West“
- George Orwell, “W. B. Yeats as Occult Fascist“
Share your favorite Yeats poems below.