W.B.Yeats A Poetic life 1865-1939
Childhood • W B Yeats was born in Sandymount, Dublin in 1865. Shortly after Yeats was born his family moved to County Sligo. Yeats’ mum’s extended family were wealthy merchants there and welcomed them to the area. This landscape soon became part of his early childhood life. In 1867 when he was two his family moved over to London to support their father’s art career. At first his mother educated him but in 1877 he entered the Godolphin School. Between 1884 and 1886 Yeats attended the Metropolitan School. Soon afterwards he wrote his first poems.
A Young Poet • In 1890 Yeats co-founded the Rhymers club alongside Ernest Rhys. A group of poets would meet regularly to recite their verse. He published two poems of the Rhymers work, the first in 1892, the second in 1894. Yeats became interested in mythological ideas and poems. He was influenced by them in some of his writing. Although he thought it was fascinating many critics had different views on his paranormal writing. His first significant poem was “The Isle of Statues”. • His father paid for 100 copies of his first poem to be published as a pamphlet.
Maude Gonne Abbey Theatre In 1899 Yeats co-established the Abbey theatre for performing Irish and Celtic plays. Yeats created a play called Cathleen Ni Houlihan. It was so successful that Yeats remained with the Abbey until his death. • In 1889 Yeats met Maud Gonne a 23 year old nationalist. Gonne had admired The Isle of Statues and Yeats was greatly pleased. In 1891 Yeats proposed to her but was rejected and three more times after that as well.
Nobel Prize • In December 1923 Yeats won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was aware of the confidence this would give the Irish after only just receiving independence. He has inspired many others to write poems and go on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature as well. In my opinion Yeats was the sign of a good fresh new start not only for poets but for Ireland as well. It just shows how good his poems are that we still learn them a century afterwards.
A Fading Light • By early 1925 Yeats health was deteriorating. He still wrote very good poems but it would take him longer to write them. For the last five years of his life he explained “if I write poems they will be nowhere as good as they were”. He died at the Hotel Ideal Sejour in the South of France. In September 1948 his body was moved to County Sligo. The inscription on his headstone reads: • Cast a cold eye • On life, on Death • Horseman, pass by
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven • Had I the heavens embroidered cloths • Enwrought with golden and silver light • The blue and the dim and the dark cloths • Of night and light and the half-light • I would spread these cloths under your feet • But I being poor have only my dreams • I have spread my dreams under your feet • Tread softly because you tread on my dreams