William Butler Yeats was born on 13 June 1865 in Dublin, the eldest of six children. His father abandoned a career in the law for a precarious life as a painter and much of Yeats' childhood was divided between Dublin, London and Sligo. In 1897 he helped found the Irish Literary Theatre, which was to lead to the Abbey Theatre in 1904. Fascinated by Irish folklore, the First World War, Anglo-Irish and Irish Civil War intensified and increasing disillusionment with the modern world. In 1917 Yeats married Georgie Hyde-Lees, whose automatic writing was the basis for his 'philosophy'. In 1922 he was appointed to the new Irish Senate and the following year he won the Nobel Prize.
'Tread softly because you tread on my dreams' is one of the most well-known and repeated lines of poetry ever written.
Less haunting, but still so relevant: 'Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.'
W B Yeats was one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. Winner of a Nobel prize, he was also a political figure, and, as is evident from his earlier work, fascinated by Irish folklore and the occult. He was also deeply affected by the First World War and the Anglo-Irish and Irish civil wars. It is a testament to the greatness of Yeats' poetry that he attempts to bear witness to these emotional and historical forces.
This perfectly pitched collection includes some of the greatest poetry of the 20th century.
'The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper' W B Yeats The essential collection of W B Yeats best-loved poems.