W. B. Yeats

William Butler Yeats [ jeɪts ] ( born June 13, 1865 in Sandymount in Dublin, † January 28, 1939 in Menton ( Menton ) in Nice, buried in Drumcliff, Co. Sligo) was an Irish poet. He is considered one of the most important English-language writers of the 20th century. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. WB Yeats was the brother of the artist and author Jack Butler Yeats and the father of politician Michael Yeats.


William was the son of John Butler Yeats, a lawyer who had turned to the art of portraiture. He spent his childhood with his grandmother in his birthplace, he received the education in London and Dublin. After studying art in Dublin since 1880, he turned to literature. During the semester break in the home, he was enthusiastic about the heritage of the Irish culture. Yeats was a Protestant and grew up in a torn by religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants country; he inclined neither the one nor the other side. Yeats became friends with Oscar Wilde, who introduced him to the French Symbolism. Since then, Yeats put a particularly for the English- Irish literature.

When the family moved back to London in 1887, he became a writer and dealt in detail with the English Romanticism (especially with Shelley and Blake ) as well as with Hinduism and mysticism and joined the Theosophical Society. There he met the founder Helena Blavatsky know. In 1890 he became a member of the ' discrete magical community ' Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, moved in 1903 to the Stella Matutina, a successor organization of the Golden Dawn and was elected in 1911 to Emperor of Amoun Temple in London. His religious name was "Daemon est Deus inversus " ( " The demon is an inverted God "). In his essay magic says:

"I believe in the vision of truth in the depths of the mind when the eyes are closed. "

One of the best known of his poems is called The Wanderings of Oisin (1889 ), published in the same volume of poetry. Some of his poems were folk songs, such as Down by the Salley Gardens in the band Crossways (1889 ). The age of positivism repelled him - he wanted to be visionary and reveled in symbolic images.

On one of his visits to Ireland Yeats met actress and Irish freedom fighter Maud Gonne and fell in love with her. She admired him though - in the world premiere of his play Cathleen ni Houlihan in 1902, she played the title role - but returned his affection by no means. Also, because of his passion for Maud Gonne, he joined the Irish nationalists.

In 1896 he went back to Ireland. With Irish intellectuals he often met at Oliver St. John Gogarty on Dunguaire Castle or at Coole Park, the country estate of the Irish writer Lady Gregory, whom he later accompanied on trips to the continent. He obtained in 1916 the remains of a Norman castle near Coole Park and lived for twelve years in " Thoor Ballylee " the Cloon River near Gort. There he wrote The Winding Stair and The Tower Poems.

There he carved in a table following a spell:

I, the poet William Yeats, With old mill boards and sea -green slates, And smithy work from the Gort forge, Restored this tower for my wife George; And june thesis characters REMAIN When all is ruin once again.

In 1904 he founded with the help of Lady Gregory, William and Frank Fay, Annie Horniman, and the actress Florence Farr in Dublin, the Irish National Theatre Society ( from December 1904 Abbey Theatre ), the later Irish National Theatre and ran it until 1936. For the repertoire of the theater he wrote himself, won as an author but also, inter alia, John Millington Synge.

From 1913, Yeats lived for some time in Sussex. Ezra Pound was his secretary and introduced him to Far Eastern literature ( poetry and drama ). In 1917 he married Georgie Hyde - Lees, which also had occult interests. This marriage produced two children: Anne ( * 24 Feb. 1919; † July 4, 2001 ) and Michael Yeats (* 22 August 1922; † 3 January 2007)

The Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 commented Yeats in the poem Easter 1916, which appeared in the Michael Robartes and the Dancer collection 1921. In the serious poem he recalls the Irish freedom fighter with the words:

" Everything changed completely. Terrible beauty was born. "

After independence, the Republic of Ireland he was from 1922 to 1928 a member of the Irish Senate.

Yeats wrote prose, poetry, plays and essays. In 1923, the Nobel Prize for Literature, he was awarded "for his always supported by high intuition seals that bring in perfect form the essence of his people to express. "

In 1923 he withdrew from the Order of the Stella Matutina activities and resigned from the Order.

On January 28, 1939 William Butler Yeats died at the Hôtel Séjour Idéal in Menton and was buried in Roquebrune- Cap- Martin.

In 1948 he was reburied after Drumcliff. The place is located about 6 km north of Sligo in a picturesque landscape, which is now called Yeats County and has significantly influenced by his own admission his work. The written by him grave inscription dates from September 4, 1938 from the poem Under Ben bulbs.

Work and philosophy

Yeats was - especially as head of the Abbey Theatre - one of the initiators of the renaissance of Irish poetry. His verse plays are first committed to the style of Shakespeare, and his early poetry was influenced by Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine. In romantic mood pictures he described the ancient Celts and their myths, as he saw it. His works of this period are characterized by a dreamy atmosphere and Irish music from the collection of his friend and confidante Lady Gregory. Yeats published two collections of Irish fairy tales and legends: 1888, Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry; 1892 Irish Fairy Tales.

After 1891 matured in him the belief Irish culture - particularly literature - should support the political struggle, if not replace it. This, however, they must be less romantic and mystical, but clear and direct. From about 1909 on, he changed his style: Even if this was complex, it was harder, and there were added theoretical and philosophical elements. The four -act play by 1921 on the Celtic hero Cú Chulainn, as Four Plays for Dancers summarized, are heavily influenced by Japanese Noh Theater. There are highly stylized pieces for performances on a small stage; the author uses vocals, masks, dance and choir. So he created poetic dramas, unite in their radically new style is realism and political myth to highly symbolic dream worlds.

The older Yeats was, the more productive he was. These are: The Wild Swans at Coole of 1917, The Tower of 1928 (named after " Thoor Ballylee " ), and finally The Winding Stair 1929 His philosophy he put in prose writing A Vision (1925, revised edition 1937 ) represents. , which he co-authored with his wife. Still amazed with more than 70 years and he delighted his audience with the collections of poems New Poems and Last Poems and Two Plays.

Valuable information about Yeats's thinking convey his autobiographical works Autobiographies from 1927 and Dramatis Personae 1936 Its symbolism is not easy to understand. ; his love for northern European and Greek, his admiration for Plato and Neo-Platonism, his strong interest in magic - his wife Georgie to have been predisposed medial -, myth and alchemy particular his idea of ​​worlds. He was convinced of the cyclical recurrence of historical phenomena. His archetypal images in the different age levels return again, merge and multiply. These symbols do not stand alone; they would be nothing without its growing wisdom, his passion and his joy in life, are rationalists, however, difficult to access.

Works (selection)

  • The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1889 )
  • The Celtic Twilight (1893 )
  • The Lake Isle of Innisfree (1893 )
  • The land of heart 's desire (1894 )
  • The secret rose (1897 )
  • The Wind Among the Reeds (1899 )
  • Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902 )
  • Ideas of Good and Evil (1903 )
  • In the Seven Woods ( 1904)
  • Discoveries (1907 )
  • Deirdre (1907 )
  • The green helmet (1910 )
  • Responsibilities (1914 )
  • Four Plays for Dancers ( 1921)
  • Four Years ( 1921)
  • The Cat and the Moon ( 1924)
  • A Vision (1925 )
  • Autobiographies (1926 )
  • The Tower (1928 )
  • The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933 )
  • Collected Plays ( 1934)

Musical reception

On the album HMS Donovan Donovan has the poem "The Song of Wandering Aengus " set to music. Judy Collins also sings a version of this poem, in a manner based on a folk tune melody under the title "The Golden Apples of the Sun" on their eponymous 1963 soundtrack LP. On their 1971 released album Livin 'is a set to music by Hamilton Camp version of the poem " The Lake Isle of Innisfree " to hear. Also on " The Lake Isle of Innisfree " and "No Second Troy " the song " Yeats ' Grave" based on the album No Need to Argue the Irish rock band The Cranberries.

Later Angelo Branduardi William Butler Yeats has set a special monument with a musical adaptation of some of his ballads and poems. These include, inter alia, "To a Child Dancing in the Wind ," "The Fiddler of Dooney " and "The Lake Isle of Innisfree ". The translation into Italian Luisa Zappa Branduardi worried.

Loreena McKennitt set to music the poem "The Two Trees" on their album The Mask and Mirror, as well as the poem " Stolen Child " on the album Elemental. Carla Bruni sang " Those Dancing Days Are Gone " on No Promises. Irish musician Van Morrison set to music on his album The Philosopher's Stone 2 Yeats ' poem "Crazy Jane on God". The lyrics of the song "Dream of Death" by the Finnish black metal band Circle of Ouroborus comes from Yeats. Also, the American Black / Doom metal band Agalloch on their album Of Stone, Wind and Pillor has released the title A Poem By Yeats. The German literature -folk duo Jo & Ben set to music for the album Jo & Ben play William Butler Yeats seventeen poems by Yeats. On the album An Appointment With Mr. Yeats the Waterboys from 2011, songs are only heard, based on poems by the poet. The album Like a Flame of composer and organist Frederik Magle its title from Yeats 's play The Land of Heart's Desire.

Reception in literature and film

Ezra Pound's poem " The Lake Isle " is a parody of Yeats's " Lake Isle of Innisfree ". Heinrich Boll also referred to Yeats and Irish diary quoted in a German translation of the inscription on the grave stone of Yeats in Drumcliff ( from the last verse of " Under Ben bulbs "). In the Otherland series of books is quoted " An Irish Airman Foresees his Death". The title of Cormac McCarthy's novel No Country for Old Men and the film No Country for Old Men is a part of the first verse of " Sailing to Byzantium ".

In the film Equilibrium, there is a reference to Yeats by a quotation from his poem He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven:

But because I am poor, I have only my dreams. The dreams I have stretched out in front of your feet. If it easily, you 're treading on my dreams.

In The Second Awakening of Christa Klages by Margarethe von Trotta (1978 ) Yeats ' poem When You Are Old is recited, has lost at one point in the movie where Klages their hope and energy.

The title of the novel Dancer From the Dance (1978 ) by Andrew Holleran is the last line of Yeats ' poem Among School Children ( "How can we know the dancer from the dance? " ) Removed.