William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

“. . . and gather me | Into the artiface of eternity . . . ”


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Frieze of the female martyrs, Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna. An inspiration for "Sailing to Byzantium," says Jon Stallworthy. Photo by Mary Ann Sullivan.


introduction & biography

"William Butler Yeats." Poetry Archive. Directors, Andrew Motion & Richard Carrington.

"W. B. Yeats." A brief introduction to William Butler Yeats, includes text of many of his most famous poems, with Yeats himself reading "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" in one audio file. Academy of American Poets.

"William Butler Yeats." Yeats's biography, themes, style, his mysticism, and more, are covered in an encyclopedia-type article from the Poetry Foundation.

Hammer, Langdon. ENGL 310: Modern Poetry, William Butler Yeats. In the first of two lectures on Yeats, "The early poetry of William Butler Yeats is read and interpreted with particular attention paid to Yeats's ambitions as a specifically Irish poet. Yeats's commitment to a poetry of symbol is explored in 'The Song of the Wandering Aengus,' a fable of poetic vocation. 'A Coat,' composed at the end of Yeats's struggle to bring about an Irish national theater, shows the poet reconceiving his style and in search of a new audience. 'The Fisherman' is read as a revision of 'The Song of the Wandering Aengus' which reflects this new set of concerns." William Butler Yeats (con't) [2 lectures]. Yale U Open Courseware Spring 2007.

Vendler, Helen. "Among School Children." An analysis of Yeats's poem, in a video presentation from Professor Helen Vendler's Harvard class "Poems, Poets, Poetry."

"William Butler Yeats." An introduction, biography, and brief critical overview for Yeats, from educational publisher Pearson Literature.

Kennedy, X.J. "William Butler Yeats: 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree.'" Three audio files: Dr. Kennedy reading from a section of the story, lecturing on it, and discussing ways to write about it. Longmans Lectures, from educational publisher Pearson/Longman [scroll down for Yeats].

"William Butler Yeats." An introduction to Yeats, from educational publisher Gale/Cengage.

"Easter 1916." The web page includes the text of the poem, its historical context, a few hypertext annotations, discussion and analysis, and some manuscript facsimiles. From educational publisher Norton.

Alkali-Gut, Karen. Selected Poems of Yeats: An Introduction, covers Yeats's early experiences and Pre-Raphaelitism. From Hakibbutz Hameuchad edition of Yeats's Poems, 2001.

"Mr Yeats's ardent new poems," a review from 1919 of "The Wild Swans at Coole." The (UK) Guardian archive.

Spurr, Barry. "W.B. Yeats." Literary Encyclopedia, 26 August 2005. Eds. Robert Clark, Emory Elliott, Janet Todd. An introduction to Yeats, from a database that provides signed literary criticism by experts in their field, and is available to individuals for a reasonably-priced subscription [subscription service].

Cusack, George. On Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902), Literary Encyclopedia, 25 November 2004.


literary criticism

Bloom, Edward A. "Yeats's 'Second Coming': An Experiment in Analysis." University of Kansas City Review 21, 2 (Winter 1954) [sub ser, enotes; has 12 more scholarly articles on "The Second Coming."].

Bogan, Louise. "William Butler Yeats." An appreciation of the yet-living Yeats written in 1938, by poet Louise Bogan. The Atlantic Monthly.

Bradford, Curtis. "Yeats's Byzantium Poems: A Study of their Development," in Yeats: A Collection of Critical Essays. Prentice Hall, 1963 [sub ser, questia].

Doggett, Rob. "Writing out chaos: Constructions of history in Yeats's 'Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen' and 'Meditations in Time of Civil War.'" Twentieth Century Literature 47, 2 (Summer 2001) [sub ser, questia].

Donoghue, Denis. "The Human Image in Yeats." Says Donoghue, "Reading Yeats we find a poet intensely and often painfully preoccupied with the irreconcilable claims of Soul and Body." An extended discussion of this theme, especially in the Crazy Jane poems. The London Magazine 1 (December 1961).

Donoghue, Denis. "Fears for Irish Studies in an Age of Identity Politics." Donoghue writes, "not only is postcolonial theory ill-suited to the Irish situation, but the interpretations of literature that it produces are shallow and one-dimensional." Chronicle of Higher Education 21 November 1997 [gone].

Edmond, Murray. "No Paragraphs: Meditations on Noh, Poetry, Theatre and the Avant-garde." On W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound. Jacket 16 (March 2002).

Frazier, Adrian. Behind the Scenes: Yeats, Horniman, and the Struggle for the Abbey Theatre (U of California P 1990). A free, book-length critical study. California Digital Library.

Harrison, John R. "What Rough Beast?: Yeats, Nietzsche and Historical Rhetoric in 'The Second Coming'." Papers on Language and Literature 31, 4 (Fall 1995) [sub ser, highbeam].

Jeffares, Norman A. "The Byzantine Poems of W.B. Yeats." On "Sailing to Byzantium," "Byzantium," manuscripts. The Review of English Studies 85 (1946) [first page only, oxford jour].

Kermode, Frank. "The Anglo-Irish Hyphen." Kermode reflects on a passage in Edward Said's Culture and Imperialism (1993) on "Yeats and Decolonization." Hopkins Review Winter 2008 [substantial extract, muse].

Levine, Bernard. "Vision and 'Responsibility.'" On "The Second Coming" and earlier Yeats poems. In The Dissolving Image: The Spiritual-Esthetic Development of W. B. Yeats (Wayne State UP 1970) [sub ser, enotes].

McKinsey, Martin. "Classicism and Colonial Retrenchment in W. B. Yeats's 'No Second Troy.'" Twentieth Century Literature 48 (Summer 2002) [first page only, blurred, jstor].

Perloff, Marjorie. "'Easter 1916': Yeats's World War I Poem." On the emotional and political complexity that generated and found expression in the poem. From The Oxford Handbook of British and Irish War Poetry.

Pocock, Stephanie J. "Artistic Liminality: Yeats's Cathleen ni Houlihan and Purgatory." New Hibernia Review 12, (3 Autumn 2008) pp 99-117 [substantial extract, muse].

Pound, Ezra. "Responsibilities, by W.B. Yeats." Ezra Pound's review of Yeats in Poetry magazine, May 1914.


web sites

"The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats." The National Library of Ireland. An online exhibition which makes available an extensive collection of Yeats documents, and other holdings on Irish literature, history, and culture.

Yeats Society Sligo. Includes a selection of Yeats's poetry and commentary.

Brewer, Elizabeth. "William Butler Yeats and Postcolonialism." Brewer contends that Yeats, as a writer who devoted himself to Irish culture and literature, could be considered a postcolonial figure. From the Postcolonial literature project at Emory U.


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