The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats Volume I: The Poems: Revised Second Edition Paperback – Sep 9 1996
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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. --Kerry Fried
"My favourite poet is Yeats, who in my book is the greatest since Shakespeare" -- Michael Longley "His verse is inspired;his poetic persona is magnificent... He created a poetry both lyrical and demotic, melodic and rhetorical" -- Peter Ackroyd The Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Beyond that, why should anyone buy this edition as opposed to any of the other available? First, the collected poems gives you a sense of his development and interests, not just the highlights of his greates poems. Second, and more importantly, this edition is well-annotated. The notes are thorough without being unduly interpretive--they tell you what an allusion refers to, not how it affects the meaning of the poem. The notes aim to be useful to any reader, regardless of background. As a result, western readers will come across odd sounding notes such as "Jesus Christ is the founder of Christianity" or "Hamlet is the hero of William Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name." Still, you'll be thankful for such prosaic entries as they explain Irish myth and locate historical allusions. All in all, it's an edition that belongs on any poetry lover's shelf.
Shame on Amazon!
(But hey, if Sodom120--from Louisiana, no less--says these poems are "mediocre," then what do I, the worldwide poetry-reading public, generations of succeeding poets, and the Nobel committee know?)
Some time later, I read his poems again and felt deceived. They were whimsical, immature, unfinished. I could not understand why he was so highly praised. Whenever somebody told me he/she liked Yeats, I felt an embarrassment. I wondered if I had failed Yeats or if he was the deceiver.
However, when I approached him for the third time, I had a strange experience I can only compare with reading Nietzsche. I read a line or two, they seem too simple and crude. I read them a second time, they become opaque. A third time, they yield and I feel as if playing with a caleidoscope. Now at least I am wiser; I know I will be profoundly touched, annoyed and bored in turns, but I also know I will always return to Yeats, because a quarrel with him is better than a constant love for another poet.
Finneran's edition includes this poem in context, in its order in the development of Yeats's work. Read it as Yeat meant it to be read: followed by his equally great poem "A Prayer for my Daughter," where he offers hope in the beauty and innocence of personal ceremony. In a crowded, generic time, Yeats's poems are themselves ceremonies.
Most recent customer reviews
A very good edition of Yeats' poems, which was bought second hand from World of Books, and I highly recommend them too.Published 7 days ago by Cassandra
Offers a full selection of Yeats's poems from every stage of his career as a poet. His prose works and outlines of his philosophical positions and Irish history lie elsewhere.Published on Feb. 6 2014 by G Lawrence Jones
Great collection at a great price. Using this for an upper level English class, and I'm thrilled I could order it online with Amazon for a decent price.Published on Oct. 3 2013 by Taryn
It is wonderful to have a new copy of Yeat's Poems. This is a great publication and is easy to slip into one's shoulder bag to enjoy over a coffee or train trip. Read morePublished on June 7 2013 by Desmond
"Art has, I beleive, always gained in intensity by limitation."
Yeats was the great poet of the 20th century... Read more