for writers and readers….

Happy Birthday to the great W.B

William Butler Yeats by John Singer Sargent 1908

William Butler Yeats, Irish poet and writer, senator and winner of the 1923 Nobel Prize for Literature is 150 years old today. His birthday is being celebrated all over the world and there is a four day party going on in Sligo right now. He wasn’t born in Sligo but it was where he spent every holiday in his youth and it was the place that meant at the most to him. Edna O’ Brien is at the party and the Irish Times quotes her today as saying ‘for every writer, the first places are the defining places. They colour and inform every writer. It is there in all the literary giants.’

Ben BulbenYeats Country

On Monday Baroness D’Souza will host a celebration in the House of Lords with the Irish ambassador. Actor Michael Gambon (Dublin-born by the way)  will read The Song of Wandering Aengus. Back in Ireland there’s also a Yeats coin, a Yeats rose and a Yeats garden.

Here’s one of my favourite poems

WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Maud gonneMaude Gonne – the woman who inspired Yeats’ poem…he never stopped loving the pilgrim soul in her.

Photo credits

William Butler Years and Maude Gonne William  Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Yeats Country photo credit: Day 2 – Ben Bulben via photopin (license)

8 comments on “Happy Birthday to the great W.B

  1. philipparees
    June 13, 2015

    It is a spectacular poem of deepest love. Why do we, lesser writers, not simply read instead? Oh my!

    • bridget whelan
      June 13, 2015

      That’s the danger of reading – sometimes you just want to lay down your pen. While I was on the Masters course in creative writing the lecturer was sorry that he had to give The Dead by James Joyce as a set text…he was afraid we would never write another word again.

      • philipparees
        June 13, 2015

        If I needed another nudge to simply abandon hope you may just have offered it! Was teetering on the brink anyway. What else is worth doing asks Sisyphus?

  2. bridget whelan
    June 13, 2015

    Don’t say that, please. Go and read a very bad book, now! There’s plenty out there. There’s probably more bad poetry than any thing else, but there’s also a ton of – published – books that would set your teeth on edge if you weren’t confident, bone-deep confident, that you could do better. Stephen King believes in reading bad books to boost your confidence at times like this….

    • philipparees
      June 13, 2015

      Thank you for the kind offer Bridget. I will dig one or two out from the reject shelf and go to…

  3. A Teenage Poet
    June 13, 2015

    That’s a beautiful poem, thank you for sharing it

  4. Cynthia Reyes
    June 14, 2015

    An interesting post, and a deeply moving poem. Happy birthdyay WB.

  5. ann perrin
    June 14, 2015

    Reblogged this on Ann Perrin.

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This entry was posted on June 13, 2015 by in Muse and tagged , , , .


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