William Butler Yeats

A picture of the author William Butler Yeats

The poet William Bulter Yeats (1865 - 1939) was a lion of English and Irish literature in the 20th century, awarded the Noble Prize in Literature in 1923. His recognition so soon after Ireland's independence afforded him the opportunity to promote Irish nationalism and cultural independence. In addition to his accomplishments as a poet and short story author, Yeats founded the Abbey Theatre, spearheaded the Irish Literary Revival, and served in the Irish Senate for two terms late in his life.

Yeats grew up in Sandymount in County Dublin, Ireland where he attended school, before studying in London. He enjoyed poetry at an early age, reading Irish myths and works of the occult. The Island of Statues was his first significant poem. Yeats published his first book of lyrical work titled, The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems in 1889, comprising magical and fantasy pieces based on the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology. His early works were clearly influenced by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edmund Spenser, and William Blake. Yeats moved from Transcendentalism and a fascination with Irish mythology in his early years; he transitioned to poetry, which afforded more realistic and grounded expressions in the physical. His style is considered symbolist.

After World War I, Yeats became disillusioned by the efficacy of democracy, lost much of his revolutionary spirit, and began favoring totalitarianism. He served as a Senator of the Irish Free State from 1922-1928. After winning the Nobel Prize, his book sales increased and he had enough wealth to pay off his family's debts.

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but rather the lighting of a fire."

After many years of poor health, he underwent an operation, regaining his zeal for writing poetry, and dating younger women. In 1936, Yeats edited the Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 1892–1935. He passed away in 1939. His grave's epitaph is an excerpt from his poem, Under Ben Bulben:

Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!

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Short Stories


A Bronze Head
A Coat
A Cradle Song
A Crazed Girl
Adams Curse
A Deep-sworn Vow
A Dialogue Of Self And Soul
A Dream Of Death
A Drinking Song
A Drunken Mans Praise Of Sobriety
Aedh Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes
Aedh Hears The Cry Of The Sedge
Aedh Laments The Loss Of Love
Aedh Pleads With The Elemental Powers
Aedh Tells Of A Valley Full Of Lovers
Aedh Tells Of The Perfect Beauty
Aedh Tells Of The Rose In His Heart
Aedh Thinks Of Those Who Have Spoken Evil Of His Beloved
Aedh Wishes His Beloved Were Dead
A Faery Song
A First Confession
A Friends Illness
After Long Silence
Against Unworthy Praise
A Last Confession
All Souls Night
All Things Can Tempt Me
Alternative Song For The Severd Head In "The King Of The Great Clock Tower"
A Man Young And Old
A Man Young And Old:- First Love
A Man Young And Old:- From Oedipus At Colonus
A Man Young And Old:- His Memories
A Man Young And Old:- His Wildness
A Man Young And Old:- Human Dignity
A Man Young And Old:- Summer And Spring
A Man Young And Old:- The Death Of The Hare
A Man Young And Old:- The Empty Cup
A Man Young And Old:- The Friends Of His Youth
A Man Young And Old:- The Mermaid
A Man Young And Old:- The Secrets Of The Old
A Meditation In Time Of War
A Memory Of Youth
A Model For The Laureate
Among School Children
An Acre Of Grass
An Appointment
Anashuya And Vijaya
A Nativity
A Needles Eye
An Image From A Past Life
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
Another Song Of A Fool
A Poet To His Beloved
A Prayer For My Daughter
A Prayer For My Son
A Prayer For Old Age
A Prayer On Going Into My House
Are You Content?
A Song
A Song From The Player Queen
A Stick Of Incense
At Aleciras - A Meditaton Upon Death
At Galway Races
A Thought From Propertius
At the Abbey Theatre
A Woman Homer sung
A Woman Young And Old
Baile And Aillinn
Beautiful Lofty Things
Before The World Was Made
Beggar To Beggar Cried
Blood And The Moon
Breasal The Fisherman
Broken Dreams
Brown Penny
Church And State
Closing Rhymes
Colonel Martin
Colonus Praise
Come Gather Round Me, Parnellites
Coole Park
Coole Park and Ballylee
Crazy Jane And Jack The Journeyman
Crazy Jane And The Bishop
Crazy Jane Grown Old Looks At The Dancers
Crazy Jane On God
Crazy Jane On The Day Of Judgment
Crazy Jane On The Mountain
Crazy Jane Reproved
Crazy Jane Talks With The Bishop
Cuchulain Comforted
Cuchulains Fight With The Sea
Demon and Beast
Down By The Salley Gardens
Ego Dominus Tuus
Fallen Majesty
Father And Child
Fergus And The Druid
For Anne Gregory
From A Full Moon In March
From The "Antigone"
Girls Song
Gratitude To The Unknown Instructors
Hanrahan Laments Because Of His Wanderings
Hanrahan Reproves The Curlew
Hanrahan Speaks To The Lovers Of His Songs In Coming Days
He And She
He Bids His Beloved Be At Peace
He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes
He Hears The Cry Of The Sedge
He Mourns For The Change That Has Come Upon Him And His Beloved, And Longs For The End Of The World
He Remembers Forgotten Beauty
He Reproves The Curlew
Her Praise
He Tells Of A Valley Full Of Lovers
He Tells Of The Perfect Beauty
He Thinks Of His Past Greatness When A Part Of The Constellations Of Heaven
He Thinks Of Those Who Have Spoken Evil Of His Beloved
He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven
He Wishes His Beloved Were Dead
High Talk
His Dream
His Phoenix
Hound Voice
Imitated From The Japanese
In Memory Of Alfred Pollexfen
In Memory of Major Robert Gregory
In Taras Halls
In The Seven Woods
Into The Twilight
Introductory Rhymes
John Kinsella's Lament For Mr. Mary Moore
King and No King
Lapis Lazuli
Leda And The Swan
Lines Written In Dejection
Long-Legged Fly
Maid Quiet
Meditations In Time Of Civil War
Men Improve With The Years
Me Peacock
Michael Robartes Asks Forgiveness Because Of His Many Moods
Michael Robartes Bids His Beloved Be At Peace
Michael Robartes Remembers Forgotten Beauty
Mohini Chatterjee
Mongan Laments The Change That Has Come Upon Him And His Beloved
Mongan Thinks Of His Past Greatness
Narrative And Dramatic The Wanderings Of Oisin
Never Give All the Heart
News For The Delphic Oracle
Nineteen Hundred And Nineteen
No Second Troy
O Do Not Love Too Long
Oil And Blood
Old Memory
On A Picture Of A Black Centaur By Edmund Dulac
On A Political Prisoner
On Being Asked For A War Poem
On Hearing That The Students Of Our New University Have Joined The Ancient Order Of Hibernians And The Agitation Against Immoral Literature
On Those That Hated "The Playboy Of The Western World"
On Woman
Owen Aherne And His Dancers
Parnells Funeral
Quarrel In Old Age
Red Hanrahans Song About Ireland
Remorse For Intemperate Speech
Ribb At The Tomb Of Baile And Aillinn
Ribb Considers Christian Love Insufficient
Ribb Denounces Patrick
Ribb In Ecstasy
Roger Casement
Running To Paradise
Sailing To Byzantium
September 1913
Shepherd And Goatheard
Sixteen Dead Men
Slim Adolescence That A Nymph Has Stripped
Solomon And The Witch
Solomon To Sheba
Spilt Milk
Stream And Sun At Glendalough
Supernatural Songs
Sweet Dancer
Swifts Epitaph
That The Night Come
The Apparitions
The Arrow
The Attack on ‘The Playboy of the Western World,’ 1907
The Ballad Of Father Gilliagan
The Ballad Of Father OHart
The Ballad Of Moll Magee
The Ballad Of The Foxhunter
The Balloon Of The Mind
The Black Tower
The Blessed
The Cap And Bells
The Cat And The Moon
The Chambermaids First Song
The Chambermaids Second Song
The Choice
The Circus Animal Desertion
The Cloak, The Boat, And The Shoes
The Cold Heaven
The Collar-Bone Of A Hare
The Coming Of Wisdom With Time
The Consolation
The Countess Cathleen In Paradise
The Crazed Moon
The Curse Of Cromwell
The Dawn
The Dedication To A Book Of Stories
The Delphic Oracle Upon Plotinus
The Dolls
The Double Vision Of Michael Robartes
The Everlasting Voices
The Falling Of The Leaves
The Fascination Of What’s Difficult
The Fiddler Of Dooney
The Fish
The Fisherman
The Folly Of Being Comforted
The Fool By The Roadside
The Four Ages of Man
The Ghost Of Roger Casement
The Gift Of Harun Al-Rashid
The Great Day
The Grey Rock
The Gyres
The Harp Of Aengus
The Hawk
The Heart Of The Woman
The Hosting Of The Sidhe
The Host Of The Air
The Hour Before Dawn
The Hour-Glass
The Indian To His Love
The Indian Upon God
The Ladys First Song
The Ladys Second Song
The Ladys Third Song
The Lake isle Of Innesfree
The Lamentation Of The Old Pensioner
The Leaders Of The Crowd
The Living Beauty
The Lover Asks Forgiveness Because Of His Many Moods
The Lover Mourns For The Loss Of Love
The Lover Pleads With His Friend For Old Friends
The Lover Speaks To The Hearers Of His Songs In Coming Days
The Lovers Song
The Lover Tells Of The Rose In His Heart
The Madness Of King Goll
The Magi
The Man And The Echo
The Man Who Dreamed Of Faeryland
The Mask
The Meditation Of The Old Fisherman
The Moods
The Mother Of God
The Mountain Tomb
The Municipal Gallery Revisited
The New Faces
The Nineteenth Century And After
The Old Age Of Queen Maeve
The Old Men Admiring Themselves In The Water
The Old Stone Cross
The ORahilly
The Peacock
The People
The Phases of the Moon
The Pilgrim
The Player Queen
The Players Ask For A Blessing On The Psalteries And On Themselves
The Poet Pleads With His Friend For Old Friends
The Ragged Wood
The Realists
The Results Of Thought
The Rose Of Battle
The Rose Of Peace
The Rose Of The World
The Rose Tree
The Sad Shepherd
The Saint And The Hunchback
The Scholars
These Are The Clouds
The Second Coming
The Secret Rose
The Seven Sages
The Shadowy Waters
The Song Of The Happy Shepherd
The Song Of The Old Mother
The Song Of Wandering Aengus
The Sorrow Of Love
The Spirit Medium
The Spur
The Statesmans Holiday
The Statues
The Stolen Child
The Three Beggars
The Three Bushes
The Three Hermits
The Three Monuments
The Tower
The Travail Of Passion
The Two Kings
The Two Trees
The Unappeasable Host
The Valley Of The Black Pig
The Well And The Tree
The Wheel
The White Birds
The Wild Old Wicked Man
The Wild Swans at Coole
The Winding Stair And Other Poems
The Witch
The Withering Of The Boughs
The Young Man’s Song
Those Images
Three Marching Songs
Three Movements
Three Songs To The One Burden
Three Songs To The Same Tune
To A Child Dancing In The Wind
To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Nothing
To An Isle In The Water
To A Poet
To A Shade
To A Squirrel At Kyle-na-gno
To A Wealthy Man
To A Young Beauty
To A Young Girl
To Be Carved On A Stone At Thoor Ballylee
To Dorothy Wellesley
To Ireland In The Coming Times
Tom O’Roughley
To My Heart, Bidding It Have No Fear
To Some I Have Talked With By The Fire
To The Rose Upon The Road Of Time
Towards Break Of Day
Two Songs From A Play
Two Songs Of A Fool
Two Songs Rewritten For The Tunes Sake
Two Years Later
Under Ben Bulben
Under Saturn
Under The Moon
Under The Round Tower
Upon A Dying Lady
Upon A House Shaken By The Land Agitation
Veronicas Napkin
What Magic Drum?
What Then?
What Was Lost
Whence Had They Come?
When Helen Lived
When You Are Old
Who Goes With Fergus?
Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad?
Words For Music Perhaps
Youth And Age

Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson