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The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats, Vol. 1: The Poems, 2nd Edition Hardcover – October 1, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

William Butler Yeats, whom many consider this century's greatest poet, began as a bard of the Celtic Twilight, reviving legends and Rosicrucian symbols. By the early 1900s, however, he was moving away from plush romanticism, his verse morphing from the incantatory rhythms of "I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree" into lyrics "as cold and passionate as the dawn." At every stage, however, Yeats plays a multiplicity of poetic roles. There is the romantic lover of "When You Are Old" and "A Poet to His Beloved" ("I bring you with reverent Hands / The books of my numberless dreams..."). And there are the far more bitter celebrations of Maud Gonne, who never accepted his love and engaged in too much politicking for his taste: "Why should I blame her that she filled my days / With misery, or that she would of late / Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways, / Or hurled the little streets upon the great, / Had they but courage equal to desire?" There is also the poet of conscience--and confrontation. His 1931 "Remorse for Intemperate Speech" ends: "Out of Ireland have we come. / Great hatred, little room, / Maimed us at the start. / I carried from my mother's womb / A fanatic heart."

Yeats was to explore several more sides of himself, and of Ireland, before his Last Poems of 1938-39. Many are difficult, some snobbish, others occult and spiritualist. As Brendan Kennelly writes, Yeats "produces both poppycock and sublimity in verse, sometimes closely together." On the other hand, many prophetic masterworks are poppycock-free--for example, "The Second Coming" ("Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer; / Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...") and such inquiries into inspiration as "Among School Children" ("O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, How can we know the dancer from the dance?"). And at his best, Yeats extends the meaning of love poetry beyond the obviously romantic: love becomes a revolutionary emotion, attaching the poet to friends, history, and the passionate life of the mind.

Though this edition has been reset and revised, the changes are not as shocking as the 1984 edition, which included 100 extra pages of notes, changes in language and punctuation, and, most significantly, a redefinition of the Last Poems. Richard Finneran has had the courage to reorder the poems according to notes that Yeats made shortly before his death. Readers may be surprised to find that "Under Ben Bulben," the poet's powerful and self-mythologizing epitaph, no longer ends the collection, as it has for more than 30 years. In its place they will discover the wistful "Politics": "How can I, that girl standing there, / My attention fix / On Roman or on Russian / Or on Spanish politics..." Yet devotees of either ending will agree that this is a truly necessary volume--indeed, one of the few. As Seamus Heaney writes, "All readers of Yeats will need this book; when they open it they will feel a surprise like that experienced by St. Brendan the Navigator and his crew when they disembarked upon an island that turned out to be the back of a dormant sea monster."

From Library Journal

This is the first of a projected 14-volume edition of Yeats's work issued under the general editorship of Finneran and George Mills Harper. Volume 1 is actually a reissue, slightly revised, of Finneran's The Poems (LJ 1/84). To this latest edition he adds four previously uncollected poems and makes a few minor editorial changes. While The Variorum Edition of the Poems of W.B. Yeats (Macmillan, 1957) remains a standard source for scholars, Finneran's edition is the definitive reading text. And while it adds little new material, this volume (along with those forthcoming) should be part of any serious subject collection.-- Michael Hennessy, Southwest Texas State Univ., San Marcos correction: The Poems of Paul Celan ( LJ 5/15/89) , to have been published in May by Persea Books, will now be published in June.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 2 Sub edition (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684839350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684839356
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful By R. W. on February 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are two editions of Yeats' poetry with similar titles, this one (The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats: Volume 1: The Poems, edited by Richard Finneran, with 751 pages and published by Macmillan) and The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (also edited by Finneran, but published by Scribner with only 576 pages).

The Collected Works: Volume 1: The Poems, contains all of Yeats' verse, including the poems from his plays and essays (hence the almost 200 additional pages in length). If you want every poem Yeats wrote, buy this edition.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Williams on October 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you are, like me, a huge fan of the William Butler Yeats then you will find yourself slowly accumulating the 'Collected Works' volume by volume and not concern yourself with the cost. You will probably start with this volume, enjoy reading every poem written and feel this is an excellent volume.
If, however, you are looking for a volume to study Yeats or enjoy the best of his verse you may be better served by 'The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats" or "The Yeats Reader: A Portable Compendium of Poetry, Drama and Prose", both edited by Richard J. Finneran and less expensive, more portable paperbacks.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Love Thy.Enemy VINE VOICE on February 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One may find from Finneran similar collections in the The Yeats Reader: A Portable Compendium of Poetry, Drama, and Prose and his ample collection, similarly titled but briefer, The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. Either may also be found more favorably priced as well, and, more humbly bound, submissive to rough and daily usage.

Nevertheless this is the best you can get, and the price for a Like New or even a New copy is now quite accessible. I am very glad to have acquired mine today, through the great and mighty amazon.

I have the Scribner Collected Poems linked here, which I shall use for my reading copy. This I will place in the shelf of Bibles, for special use, and special times, when settled in arm chair to read, in peace and safety, should that day ever come. This is a glorious book, of great scholarship and dignity, and commands respect.

I refer here to the revised Second Edition published copyright 1997, so wonderful to hold, to find familiar verse, to bear in arms and to read.

Essential reading for any appreciation of Mr. Yeats I have found in Professor Vendler's Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form, which has opened so much to me, not only Mr. Yeats but beyond, into lyric form. I wished it had included a explicit and systematic revelation of his shifting meter as well, but what magnitude there is is ever-expanding.

Please see also Mr.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Lederman on May 30, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Almost none of the editions of Yeats poetry are the same, even though almost all have the same "Selected" or "Collected" title.

All "selected" editions of Yeats poetry are unclear which versions of poems have been chosen. Yeats was an inveterate reviser: he changed titles and lines in many poems through his whole life, so many poems have several versions. The reviews posted on amazon for all Yeats editions of poetry are pretty unclear to which editions they refer.

For example, many of the reviews posted on amazon for the Gramercy edition of Yeats Selected Poems refer to The Folio Society edition. References to the illustrations by brother Jack and the decorative stamped cover, the specific print font, for instance, apply only to the Folio Society edition (green cover, name stamped all over it, slip-cased in grey and has eight color paintings in it by his brother Jack).

I began to discover all this after unfortunately ordering the Gramercy edition thinking it would be a selection from Yeats entire oeuvre, but alas, it too, like the Folio edition, is a selection only from the earliest of Yeats career, only up to Responsibilities, 1914. That leaves an awful lot missing for any 'selected' edition. Unless you like the prettiness of The Folio Society or the Franklin, selected editions keep looking for a proper edition of work from throughout Yeats life. His thoughts and writing changed a fair amount over time. The Gramercy edition and the Folio edition are only really suitable as seconds in your collection if you want to compare the original versions of early poems to later versions.

There are some Franklin leather-bound editions, both "selected" and "collected" editions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By wayneford on May 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very beautiful book, handsomely binded and edited. It includes all of Yeats poetry and is very worthy the price. Any poetry lover got have this one. The only complaint is that it does not always includes the early versions of many poems, like "Brown Penny". The version presented here is the last version edited by Yeats and differs very much, at the end, from the most known version. Aside that it is a flawless edition. I truly recommend it.
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