A Book of Irish Verse

A Book of Irish Verse

A Book of Irish Verse

A Book of Irish Verse

Synopsis

In 1895 the thirty-year-old W.B. Yeats, already established as one of Ireland's leading poets and folklorists, published this outstanding collection of Irish verse as part of his campaign to establish a tradition of Irish poetry fit for the dawn of a new age in Ireland's history. This Routledge Classics edition, complete with a specially commissioned introduction by acclaimed writer and critic John Banville, is essential reading for all who appreciate good literature.

Excerpt

William Butler Yeats thrived on dissension. Conflict was his inspiration, as artist and as man, and he was nowhere happier than in the thick of the culture wars. He was thirty when in 1895 he published A Book of Irish Verse, 'towards the end of a long indignant argument, ' as he wrote in the preface to the second edition in 1900, an argument carried on 'between a few writers of our new movement, who judged Irish literature by literary standards, and a number of people, a few of whom were writers, who judged it by its patriotism and by its political effect.' Hardly a new dispute-one as old, indeed, as Plato-yet momentous not only for what was to be the future of Irish literature, but even for the future of Irish life in general.

In the 1890s, after the death of Parnell and the political vacuum left by that event, Yeats faced the dilemma of deciding which kind of Ireland he wished to promote. From early on he had understood that his poetry would be inextricably linked with the destiny of his country. He had spent much of his youth and young manhood in London, and it was there that he had his

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