William Butler Yeats - One Of Ireland's Most Revered Authors
A literary giant who strode through the 19th and 20th centuries became a Famous Son of Ireland whose historic writings are part of Irish folklore. William Butler Yeats, born in Dublin in 1865, rose to prominence when Ireland had many distinctive writers of international fame.
Yeats parents uprooted in 1874 and left Dublin for London but returned again to live in Howth by 1880. He spent much of his youth in Co. Sligo and drew great inspiration for many of his works in the North West corner of Ireland.
He chose literature as an occupation and saw the divide between Irish Catholics and Protestants as reversible through his writings. Yeats founded the National Literacy Society of Dublin and courted writers from all walks of life. He fell in love with the beautiful Maud Gonne and through her he had a brief spell in politics in the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
His infatuation with Maud inspired him to write ‘The Countess Cathleen’ and he invited her to play the title role when the play was produced. Their romance dimmed when Maud set eyes on John Mac Bride and she married him in 1903.
Yeats still continued to write tributes to Mauds beauty, often comparing her to Helen Of Troy. In 1904 Yeats withdrew from politics and founded the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and he managed its operations from 1904 to 1910.
Life at the Abbey was less than stable many times and on one occasion the audience erupted claiming Synge’s ‘Playboy of The Western World’ was an insult to the Irish people. Yeats persisted with the play and other plays also caused distress amongst audiences.
The 1916 Easter Rising was an event that Yeats perceived could never occur and he wrote that ‘Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone - It’s with O’Leary in the grave.
After the Rising he recognised the heroes bravery and then wrote ‘A terrible beauty is born’.
He married in 1917, was made a Senator of the Irish Free State and also became chairman of the Commission on Coinage.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923 and continued with his writing of ‘Under Ben Bulben’ as his personal epitaph. He drew vision from the many Gaelic sagas, stories of Cuchulain and the great Fianna.
A lyric poem ‘The Wind Among the Reeds’ and ‘The Wild Swans At Coole’ are other historic Yeats masterpieces.
Amongst his volumes of poems, ‘Mosada’ became hugely recognised. Other gems include ‘The Wanderings of Oisin’; ‘John Sherman and Dhoya’; ‘The Celtic Twilight’; ‘The Land Of Dooney’; ‘The Shadowy Waters’ and ‘Easter 1916'.
William Butler Yeats died in France in 1939, aged seventy four and his body was brought home to Ireland for internment at Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo, in 1948, nine years after his death.