William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre, is one of Ireland’s greatest writers. Born in Dublin in 1865, he spent his childhood between Sligo and London.
Born into the Angl0-Irish landowning class to a father who was himself a celebrated painter, Yeats was obsessed with the Irish Cultural revival. He was obsessed with the idea of establishing and giving voice to an Irish identity, both cultural and political, which was distinctly different from the rest of Britain.
Yeats’ poetry helps us to examine what it means to be Irish; it offers us an insight into our history; it provokes around the morality of blood sacrifice; offers a beautiful insight into the beauty of the Irish landscape and a desire to retreat from the modern world; it explores the difficult process of aging and physical decay and seeks – and ultimately achieves – immortality, through art.
NOTE: This is a PODCAST not a word file – download onto your iPod/mp3 player. Listen whenever & wherever you want to help you get to grips with the poet.
In this Study Guide, we discuss the major events in his life and then analyse the following poems:
- The Lake Isle of Innisfree
- The Wild Swans At Cole
- Historical Context
- September 1913
- Easter 1916
- An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
- Sailing to Byzantium