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The First Yeats

Poems by W. B. Yeats, 1889-1899

William Butler Yeats

Edited by Edward Larrissy

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Categories: 19th Century, 20th Century, Irish
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (240 pages)
(Pub. Apr 2010)
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  • Description
  • Excerpt
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  • Contents
  • W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) began writing poetry as a devotee of Blake, Shelley, the pre-Raphaelites, and of nineteenth-century Irish poets including James Clarence Mangan and Samuel Ferguson. By the end of his life, he had, as T.S. Eliot said, created a poetic language for the twentieth century. The First Yeats deepens our understanding of the making of that poetic imagination, reprinting the original texts of Yeats's three early collections, The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1899), The Countess of Kathleen and Various Legends and Lyrics (1892), and The Wind Among the Reeds (1899). The poems were subsequently heavily revised or discarded. Among them are some of the best-loved poems in English – 'The LakeIsle of Innisfree', 'He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' – fresh and unfamiliar here in their original contexts, together with Yeats's lengthy notes which were drastically cut in the collected editions.

    This illuminating edition by Edward Larrissy, editor of W.B. Yeats, The Major Works (Oxford University Press, 2000), includes an introduction that clarifies the literary, historical and intellectual context of the poems, detailed notes, and a bibliography. It offers essential material for reading –and revaluing – one of the great modern poets.

    Cover image: Front cover of The Wind Among the Reeds (4th edn, Elkin Matthews 1903) by Althea Gyles(detail). Copyright © The British Library Board 2010. All rights reserved. Cover design


    Introduction ix
    A Note on the Text xviii
    Bibliography xx

    The Wanderings of Oisin
    Time and the Witch Vivien
    The Stolen Child
    Girl’s Song
    An Indian Song
    Kanva, the Indian, on God
    Kanva on Himself
    Song of the Last Arcadian
    King Goll
    The Meditation of the Old Fisherman
    The Ballad of Moll Magee
    The Phantom Ship
    A Lover’s Quarrel among the Fairies
    How Ferencz Renyi Kept Silent
    The Fairy Doctor
    Falling of the Leaves
    The Priest and the Fairy
    The Fairy Pedant
    She who Dwelt among the Sycamores
    On Mr Nettleship’s Picture at the Royal Hibernian Academy
    A Legend
    An Old Song Re-sung
    Street Dancers
    To an Isle in the Water
    Quatrains and Aphorisms
    The Seeker
    Island of Statues

    To the Rose upon the Rood of Time
    Fergus and the Druid
    The Rose of the World
    The Peace of the Rose
    The Death of Cuchullin
    The White Birds
    Father Gilligan
    Father O’Hart
    When You Are Old
    The Sorrow of Love
    The Ballad of the Old Foxhunter
    A Fairy Song
    The Pity of Love
    The Lake Isle of Innisfree
    A Cradle Song (‘The angels are bending’)
    The Man who Dreamed of Fairyland
    Dedication of ‘Irish Tales’
    The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner
    When You Are Sad
    The Two Trees
    They Went Forth to the Battle, But They Always Fell
    An Epitaph
    Apologia Addressed to Ireland in the Coming Days
    Yeats’s Notes

    The Hosting of the Sidhe
    The Everlasting Voices
    The Moods
    Aedh Tells of the Rose in his Heart
    The Host of the Air
    Breasal the Fisherman
    A Cradle Song (‘The Danann children laugh...’)
    Into the Twilight
    The Song of Wandering Aengus
    The Song of the old Mother
    The Fiddler of Dooney
    The Heart of the Woman
    Aedh Laments the Loss of Love
    Mongan Laments the Change that has Come upon him
    and his Beloved
    Michael Robartes Bids his Beloved Be at Peace
    Hanrahan Reproves the Curlew
    Michael Robartes Remembers Forgotten Beauty
    A Poet to his Beloved
    Aedh Gives his Beloved Certain Rhymes
    To My Heart, Bidding it Have No Fear
    The Cap and Bells
    The Valley of the Black Pig

    Michael Robartes Asks Forgiveness Because of his
    Many Moods
    Aedh Tells of a Valley Full of Lovers
    Aedh Tells of the Perfect Beauty
    Aedh Hears the Cry of the Sedge
    Aedh Thinks of Those who have Spoken Evil of his Beloved
    The Blessed
    The Secret Rose
    Hanrahan Laments because of his Wanderings
    The Travail of Passion
    The Poet Pleads with his Friend for old Friends
    Hanrahan Speaks to the Lovers of his Songs in Coming Days
    Aedh Pleads with the Elemental Powers
    Aedh Wishes his Beloved were Dead
    Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
    Mongan Thinks of his Past Greatness

    Yeats’s Notes

    Notes on the Poems
    Index of Titles
    Index of First Lines

    William Butler Yeats
    William Butler Yeats was born was born in 1865 to John Butler Yeats, an artist, and Susan Pollexfen. His family belonged to the Church of Ireland. He spent his childhood in London, Dublin and Sligo. He trained as an artist, enrolling at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin in 1884. ... read more
    Edward Larrissy
    Edward Larrissy studied English at Oxford, where he read for a D.Phil on the poetry of William Blake. He has taught at the universities of Warwick and Keele, and has been Professor of English Literature and Head of School at the University of Leeds, where he won funding for a major ... read more
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