Master of the Month - William B. Yeates – Northbound Notebooks

Master of the Month - William B. Yeates

Posted by Rosalyn Fenton on

William Butler Yeates June 1865 - January 1939

Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, W.B Yeates is considered to be one of the most established figures in 20th century literature. Largely known for his poetry Yeates also dabbled in writing drama. He teamed up with George Moore and Edward Martyn to establish The Abbey Theatre; bringing drama with Irish flair onto the stage.

Yeates main influences were Irish legends and folktales, born in the county of Dublin but living in London, his family spent long summers in County Sligo, Western Ireland. It was only upon returning to Ireland at the age of fifteen that Yeates followed his father's footsteps. Becoming an artist of words. After completing his studies his first publication was released at the tender age of twenty, published by the Dublin University Review. It wasn't until eight years later that his true passions were published outside of an educational establishment. ‘The Wanderings of Oisin’, 1893. This was based on ancient Irish legends and one of his longest pieces telling of a famous hero; Oisin. The hero travels to different immortal lands with the fairy princess Niamh, they explore and inhabit different lands for hundreds of years enjoying new discoveries. When Oisin returns to the land of man (alone) he is saddened by his discovery of St Patricks success of disposing the pagan faith. After Yeates completed his poetic narrative he never wrote anything to that length again, deciding to indulge in lyric verse instead. 

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.

Extract from ‘An Irish Airmen Foresees his Death’

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