William Butler Yeats

[W.B. Yeats] (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939 / County Dublin / Ireland)

William Butler Yeats
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William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature as the first Irishman so honoured for what the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." Yeats is generally ... more »

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William Butler Yeats Quotations

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  • ''Designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage may be described, I think, as the silent ambassadors on national taste.''
    William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet, playwright. Speech, March 3, 1926, to the Seanad Eireann, the Irish Senate, on the coinage bill.
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  • ''It is most important that we should keep in this country a certain leisured class.... I am of the opinion of the ancient Jewish book which says "there is no wisdom without leisure."''
    William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet, playwright. Speech, March 28, 1923, to the Seanad Eireann, the Irish Senate.
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  • ''I think you can leave the arts, superior or inferior, to the conscience of mankind.''
    William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet, playwright. Speech, June 7, 1923, to the Irish Senate. On the Censorship of Films Bill.
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  • ''I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all ... like an opera.''
    William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet, playwright. letter, Aug. 25, 1888, to writer Katherine Tynan (later Hinkson). The Collected Letters of W...
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  • ''I hate journalists. There is nothing in them but tittering jeering emptiness. They have all made what Dante calls the Great Refusal.... The shallowest people on the ridge of the earth.''
    William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet, playwright. letter, Aug. 30, 1888, to writer Katharine Tynan. The Collected Letters of W.B. Yeats, vol. ...
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    I studied Yeats' poems at university and liked most of them, not all them. I still read what I think are his best poems, like 'Easter 1916'. Yeats is very much an Irish poet, but also English in many ways.

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Best Poem of William Butler Yeats

When You Are Old

WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Read the full of When You Are Old