on 26 April 2011
Contrary to the title, this in fact contains no table of contents at all, nor title page or introduction, but launches straight into the poems. There seems to be a good selection arranged by date and publication, but no verse structure has been maintained, each poem is just one big block of text. This, along with some typos and the fact that a few of my favourites are missing, means I wouldn't recommend this version.
on 27 April 2012
This classic introduction to W B Yeats (1865-1939) and his collected poems is a real work of art, and as can be seen the poetic strength of the great Irish nationalist, who was well versed in his native Irish mythology, does not diminish through his progression into old age. Here you will find the romantic lyricism of his early poems with their Celtic twilight, magical woods and fairies in such collections as his `Crossways' (1889) with its `Down by the Sally Gardens' and `The Rose' (1893) with the wonderful `Lake Isle of Innisfree'. Yeats found inspiration from his unrequited love for Maude Gonne, an ardent revolutionary, in collections such as `The Wind among the Reeds' (1899); `In the Seven Woods' (1904) to his infinitely beautiful `The Wild Swans at Coole' (1919). Then there are his more mature and political poems [he served as a senator of the Irish Free State from 1922-1928]: `Michael Robartes and the Dancer' (1921) with the astonishing `Easter 1916' and the great prophetic poem `The Second Coming'. `The Tower' (1928) contains his `Sailing to Byzantium'... Then there is `The Winding Stair and Other Poems' (1933) to `New Poems' (1938) with `The Gyres' and his `Final Poems' (1938-39) and `Under Ben Bulben'.
Yeats became interested in the Theatre and he created an Irish National Theatre; his narrative and dramatic works are also included, from his `The Wanderings of Oisin' (1889) and `The Shadowy Waters' (1906) to his `The Two Kings' (1914).
For me, Yeats is a giant among modern poetry and there are elements of Wordsworth's nature poems, Spencer's fairy kingdoms and Blake's `occult and mystical' realms in the collected poems. Yeats was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and he was more than familiar with occult symbols, ceremonial magic and demonology; yet for all this, I find there is something curious about the man, a sort of `anaemia'; a `wateriness' where there should be `steel'! But that said, his words are blood which pulse between worlds - an unseen world of ghosts and fairies and a world of political unrest. Fantastic!
on 4 September 1999
Yeats is without a doubt one of the most significant and influential poets of recent times, and probably the most important Anglo-Irish poet ever. His poems are deeply affecting, especially those concerning his unrequited love for Maud Gonne. They deal with diverse subjects like Irish politics of the time, the Republican movement, and more personal themes like love, growing old, death and the problems he saw facing an artist. My favourite poem is probably "Sailing To Byzantium;" "He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven" is beautiful too. I highly recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in poetry.
Over the last few months I have found myself writing a lot of poetry. This is something I've always dabbled in, but that seems lately to have acquired a new urgency and facility. As a result I have found myself reading a lot more poetry than I have at any point since my twenties when my early favourites were established (I've just turned fifty one). My recent reading has included the discovery of the excellent Tony Harrison, and a re-acquaintance with two early loves, Baudelaire and Rilke. I then found myself looking around for a new unfamiliar voice with which to engage. I had been introduced to several of Yeats' major poems at school, where they had made enough of an impression on me to still be able to recall sizeable chunks. Thus, I decided to give his Collected Poems a go.
I've been reading my poets cover to cover, and so I undertook to do the same with these. This took perhaps a week or so, and at the end I found myself rather under-whelmed, and rather glad to be finished. I couldn't understand the fuss. A Nobel laureate? The language seemed so quaint and un-spectacular, and yet he was considered modern? The references to Celtic myth were somewhat irritating, as what knowledge I had enjoyed in this area had grown stale with disuse. But most of all I found the meanings of the poems extremely obscure. Despite frequent re-readings I found I could make very little sense of by far the most of them. When I got to the end I had come to the conclusion that whatever reputation he enjoyed must have arisen from academic delight at obscurantism.
But just as I was about to put the book away, on a high shelf, I found myself with the feeling that I must have missed something. Surely such a reputation, guaranteed by the likes of Eliot and Auden couldn't be entirely without foundation? So, I decided to read them all again. This time I took them one at a time, very slowly, obliging myself to read and re-read each one, until I could untangle its meaning before proceeding to the next. Thus, it has taken me several weeks of careful, occasional reading, to get to the end of the book for this second time, with penetration to the meaning and music of some of these poems being a major personal intellectual challenge and achievement. The result has been a revelation and a completely new kind, for me, of poetic experience. I had no idea that you could work so hard reading a poem, and that the corresponding reward could be on the same level of intensity as that acquired from, say, an hour long symphony. I have realised that, until now, my appreciation of poetry has been confined to an overly imagistic level, with language assuming only a minor, secondary role. I have now learned that every word in a poem, no matter how seemingly small, is significant, and that the combination or juxtaposition of even familiar words can open up semantic spaces to which we have been inured by their unimaginative use in daily life. Reading this book has opened me up to a whole new artistic experience, and also, as a side benefit, completely altered my own poetic style of writing.
It is hard to communicate the love and affection I have come to feel for this man and his extraordinary mind, as one does after the most profound encounters with art.
on 30 January 2011
I don't write this review for somebody to mark it and ask for references - we are not doing A Levels here!
So I just tell you why I like this poetry.
First, the canon of poetry is a strange thing. He is approved of by some process of sifting out the good from the bad of the past. But he is approved in part because of his Irish origins and his involvement in the birth of modern Ireland. Politics is at work. Nobody is innocent in these matters, and in some respects, there is a bad man lurking behind his poetic expressions. But no on is totally pure.
From the first, Yeats dwelt in the world beyond the senses. He wrote a book called A Vision in which he and his mystic wife communicated with a spirit guide. Ask yourself while reading: do you just like his phrases, or do you too want to go to this other world while you are still here below? Me, I want to follow Yeats there.
He was a founder of the Order of the Golden Dawn, and was an acquaintance of mad magicians like Alisdair Crowley. Yeats, in common terms, was very far out.
Yeats, by many accounts, took the other world of faeries and God very seriously. In his poems of middle age he proposes that the terrestrial life of human beings is ordered by the phases of the moon, or, in some way, by the effects of the moon. The true life is beyond the effects of this moon.
The wisest men are accounted fools in our earthly lifetime. He knew that he was a fool in other people's eyes. So he says that fools are the wise. He detested the ways of the world, the ways of industry, media, politics.
In the world of life, we are totally dominated by the effects of secret influences, we will be reborn, and our search for meaning will continue just as fruitlessly - until we recognise that we must become fools, hunchbacks, mad saints. Then, when the fool dies, his body will be thrown aside, and he will exceed this world and end up in paradise.
Did Yeats really believe this!?? Or did he make it up so that you could enjoy his short works about the cloths of heaven, and sailing?
There is no doubt that he believed in this scheme of moon, life and fools. My question is: are these beliefs to be confined to the inside of the covers of a book of old poems by a dead poet? Yeats considered that the poet's task is to say the foolish and the true together. He knew that the world is an illusion.
Those who submit to be dominated by the final phases of the waning moon, they will be considered fools, hunchbacks, saints, and they will live and also die and be shot out of life beyond the true cruelty of the earth.
See The Phases of the Moon
Aim to be reborn not as a human on earth - but as something else, he says.
on 29 September 2013
I know this is a free download but you could have at least edited the text so the writings were in line and paragraph format.
Made some of my favorite poems into a difficult read.
on 15 May 2011
"Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight."
Isn't that just so beautifully put?
A wonderful collection from a wonderful poet. I was very happy to see that my favourite poems, 'The Stolen Child' and 'Into the Twilight', appear in this collection. I thoroughly recommend this to all lovers of poetry and Irish folklore.
on 2 January 2014
An amazing volume of Yeats' work, considering the price. The cover and overall format of the novel is not too shabby and if it weren't already obvious, this is all of Yeats' poetry. So I'd recommend whole-heartedly this edition, more so than any other.
on 19 July 2015
Dimensions wise this was a smaller volume than I expected, but it is a quality "object" and the integral page marking ribbon is very welcome.
All of the favourite verse is here and so the book provides a great A) introduction to Yeats' poetry for the student and B) the important poems for the casual reader wanting to know more about this politically and romantically complex writer. I recommend taking the time to read Robert Mighall's short introduction to understand and contextualise the poems in here, written at a time of cataclysmic world and, sometimes, specifically Irish events.
on 30 August 2011
I am 13 years old, and was introduced to Yeats by my grandfather. I like poetry with a rhythm, poetry that is traditional and lyrical but which I can grasp. Yeats, as one of the best 20th century poets, fufills my quota. I love Down By The Salley Gardens, An Irish Airman Forsees His Death, The Lake Isle Of Innisfree and many of the other poems he wrote in his lifetime.
It is a clearly formatted edition of his poems, and apart from not liking the cover, I cannot fault this book. Lovely as an introduction to poetry.