William Butler Yeats Poetry

William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939) was an Irish Symbolist poet, as well as a two-term Irish Senator. He was a master of traditional poetry forms, and is widely considered one of the most influential twentieth-century poets. Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923, the first Irishman to win the prize.

William Butler Yeats Poetry and Resources

William Butler Yeats by John Butler Yeats 1900

William Butler Yeats, painted by his father John Butler Yeats, 1900. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Enjoy the following Yeats poetry available on the Excellence in Literature site:

The Second Coming

The Wild Swans at Coole

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

The Song of Wandering Aengus (below)

“When You Are Old”

Poem read by Colin Farrell

Yeats reading his own poetry

In Yeats’ commentary, he explains that he is reading with an emphasis on rhythm, and as you listen, you will hear the lilting musicality of his reading.

Yeats made these recordings for the wireless in 1932, 1934, and the last on 28 October 1937 when he was 72. He died on January 28 1939. The photograph shows him sitting before the microphone in 1937.

“Easter 1916” by W. B. Yeats

An illustrated overview of “Easter 1916” by Saint Ignatius’ College English Faculty.

Yeats’ poetry could be political in subject — this poem relates to the events of the unsuccessful Easter Rising, which was staged in Ireland against British rule on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916.

The Song of Wandering Aengus

American writer Eudora Welty was influenced by Yeats’ poetry, including the lyric poem, “The Song of Wandering Aengus.”

A Yale Courses lecture on William Butler Yeats

Lecture by Langdon Hammer; Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://oyc.yale.edu.

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