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William Butler Yeats

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.

Yeats: 'Anima Hominis´, 1917

 

The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water

I heard the old, old men say,

'Everything alters,

And one by one we drop away.'

They had hands like claws, and their knees

Were twisted like the old thorn-trees

By the waters,

I heard the old, old men say,

'All that's beautiful drifts away

Like the waters.'

Yeats: 'In the Seven Woods', 1904

 

On 13 June 1865, William Butler Yeats was born in Sandymount, a coastal district of Dublin in Ireland.

His father was John Butler Yeats, who had abandoned a lawyer's career to became a painter. William's mother, Susan Mary, née Pollexfen, came from a family of prosperous Protestant traders, originally in Devonshire. The boy's brother, Jack, would eventually become renowned as an artist.

Certainly, Yeat's poems offer much to affront or challenge socialists and feminists. Anyone, however, should be able to relish his vivid eloquence, his epitomising power, his distinctive command of a wide emotional range, his self-dramatisations and his evocations of a great cast of characters.

In the democracy of poetry, Yeat's multiplied voice sounds proudly, loud and clear.

Cedric Watts

 

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