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Selected Poems And Four Plays of William Butler Yeats Paperback – September 9, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 4 Sub edition (September 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684826461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684826462
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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.

About the Author

William Butler Yeats is generally considered to be Ireland’s greatest poet, living or dead, and one of the most important literary figures of the twentieth century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Highly recommended, for poetry lovers and those with only a passing interest.
John M
There's nothing better than unwinding from a long day by sitting down with a hot cup of tea (or nice glass of wine) and reading poetry.
Wendy Louise Boyle
Yeats lives in the minds of most lovers of great modern poetry through lines of incredible beauty.
Shalom Freedman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bay Gibbons VINE VOICE on February 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
In 250 years the mass of pablum we currently pass as literature will be blown away like chaff in the wind.
One of the hard and nourishing kernals left on the threshingroom floor will certainly be Yeats.
These are poems not to be read, but learned by heart.
Among my favorites from this collection (with years of composition) are: "The Stolen Child", "To an Isle in the Water" and "Down by the Salley Gardens" (1889); "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" and "When You Are Old" (1893); "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" (1899); "The Folly of Being Comforted" and "Adam's Curse" (1904); "All Things Can Tempt Me", "Brown Penny" and "To a Child Dancing in the Wind" (1910); and "The Cat and the Moon" and "Two Songs of a Fool" (1919).
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By John M on May 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book of poems as an introduction to Yeats and found it to be wonderful. It contains major works from all of his periods and four plays as well. Highly recommended, for poetry lovers and those with only a passing interest.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Yeats lives in the minds of most lovers of great modern poetry through lines of incredible beauty.

"And we will wander hand in hand

Through hollow lands and hilly lands,

And pluck till time and times are done,

The golden apples of the moon,

The silver apples of the sun.

"We must lie down where all the ladders start

In the foul rag- and- bone shop of the heart"

"But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

and loved the sorrows of your changing face"

"An aged man is but a paltry thing

a tattered soul upon a stick

unless soul claps its hand and sing..

Yeats believed in much nonsense in his life, and apparently was not the kindest of human beings but he wrote some very great poetry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Louise Boyle on January 16, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've always been a fan of William Butler Yeats. I was given a poetry book with all the great Poets many years ago, but, unfortunately it was lost. I'm so pleased that I purchased this book. There's nothing better than unwinding from a long day by sitting down with a hot cup of tea (or nice glass of wine) and reading poetry. Definitely relaxes the brain.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on September 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
During a recent fright when we were escaping our apartment down a ladder, I took two books with me, thinking that perhaps I would need something strong. Happily Yeats's SELECTED POEMS AND FOUR PLAYS was at hand, together with, well, something private. This book, edited by the late M.L. Rosenthal, is an expanded edition of a previous book by Rosenthal that had the same title except it was called, SELECTED POEMS AND TWO PLAYS. This present edition doubles the number of plays it prints in one stroke, adding the very late THE DEATH OF CUCHULAIN as well as the strange, feverish THE WORDS UPON THE WINDOW-PANE. Previously we had only the two plays PURGATORY and CALGARY. Did I say CALGARY? I meant, CALVARY, and neither of them are worth the paper they're printed on. In college my professor used to tell us that Yeats, together with his patron Lady Gregory, invented the Abbey Theater and kept it going by writing plays annually and encouraging their society friends not only to attend but to pledge money in exchange for participation in a community-based theater. However, according to Rosenthal, some of Yeats' plays were distinctly unpopular even with this sudsidized theater and neither the actors nor the audience loved them to death.

As a boy, my dad used to quote Yeats on every occasion and he (Yeats) was a patron saint to many Irishfolk. Today not so much, but as I made my way down the ladder I was glad I had the Yeats book tucked into my pants. He is the epitome of the artist who keeps changing through circumstance, open to new influence, even partial to drugs, for many credit his late flowering to the monkey glands he took in Switzerland to rejuvenate his sex life, the precursor to today's Viagra.
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