W. B. Yeats Biography

 by Marion Phillips - June 5, 2003

w. b. yeatsThe creator of beautiful verses like: 

"O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul."

was Irish, born in 1865, son of the famous painter John Butler Yeats. His childhood was spent between County Sligo in Ireland and London. At age 15, his parents fixed in Ireland, where he studied painting for a few years, but at age 21 he opted for literature.

W. B. Yeat's first book "Mosada", was published in 1886 and through the next three years he published a collection of poems called "Fairy and Folk Tales of Irish Peasantry" (1888), and other two books "The Wanderings of Oisin" and "The Wind Among the Reeds" both in 1889. 

He got in touch with the "Celtic Revival" movement, which preached in Ireland the abandonment of English influence, becoming one of its main activists. Although he never learned Gaelic, his poetry owed much to his country's folklore. 

Yeats fell in love with a revolutionary letters-woman called Maud Gonne and in though both of them married other people, she continued to be very important in his poetry.

He was a complex man, who was involved both in political affairs and in mysticism. Yeats enjoyed studying the occult and once he alleged that "The mystical life is the center of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write".

He was so interested in these matters, that he even founded the Dublin's Hermetic Society and presided over its first meeting in 1885. 

In the next years Yeats would join other brotherhoods, such as London's Theosophical Society in 1888, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, to which he was associated for over 30 years and it was in this brotherhood that he had an argument with the famous wizard Aleister Crowley in 1900.

yeatsAlso Yeats wrote books on the mystical aspects shown in the works of Perce B. Shelley and William Blake, two masters of the English poetry.

In the political aspect, W. B. Yeats was appointed senator of the Irish Free State in 1922, and remained a member up to 1928. His poetry eventually reflected a pessimism for the political situation in his country and in Europe. 

Yeats received much influence from Ezra Pound, a more modernist poet, but never abandoned certain traditionalist rules, continuing to improve his writing as he grew older.

Yeats is remembered as an influential cultural leader and major playwright, being one of the founders of the Dublin's Abbey Theater, a winner of a Nobel prize in 1923 and as one of the greatest poets of all times. He died in 1939.

Download Yeats' works now! (Zip file size: 55 KB)


- "The Tower" poems,

- "The Countess Kathleen"  play

If you want more informations, check the sites below:

Golden Dawn Society Site: Yeats Biography

Mystica.com: Yeats Biography

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Copyright 2003 Marion Phillips

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