W. B. Yeats: A Life II: The Arch-Poet 1915-1939

Front Cover
OUP Oxford, Mar 17, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 856 pages
The acclaimed first volume of this definitive biography of W. B. Yeats left him in his fiftieth year, at a crossroads in his life. The subsequent quarter-century surveyed in The Arch-Poet takes in his rediscovery of advanced nationalism and his struggle for an independent Irish culture, his continued pursuit of supernatural truths through occult experimentation, his extraordinary marriage, and a series of tumultuous love affairs. Throughout he was writing his greatest poems: 'The Fisherman' and 'The Wild Swans at Coole' in their stark simplicity; the magnificently complex sequences on the Troubles and Civil War; the Byzantium poems; and the radically compressed last work - some of it literally written on his deathbed. The drama of his life is mapped against the history of the Irish revolution and the new Irish state founded in 1922. Yeats's many political roles and his controversial involvement in a right-wing movement during the early 1930s are covered more closely than ever before, and his complex and passionate relationship with the developing history of his country remains a central theme. Throughout this book, the genesis, alteration, and presentation of his work (memoirs and polemic as well as poetry) is explored through his private and public life. The enormous and varied circle of Yeats's friends, lovers, family, collaborators, and antagonists inhabit and enrich a personal world of astounding energy, artistic commitment, and verve. Yeats constantly re-created himself and his work, believing that art was 'not the chief end of life but an accident in one's search for reality': a search which brought him again and again back to his governing preoccupations: sex and death. He also held that 'all knowledge is biography', a belief reflected in this study of one of the greatest lives of modern times.

From inside the book

Contents

IV
1
V
5
VI
44
VII
94
VIII
140
IX
170
X
205
XI
254
XVII
496
XVIII
536
XIX
571
XX
611
XXI
653
XXII
661
XXIII
668
XXIV
671

XII
293
XIII
343
XIV
395
XV
441
XVI
466
XXV
675
XXVI
769
XXVII
797
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 327 - THAT is no country for old men. The young In one another's arms, birds in the trees — Those dying generations — at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Page 150 - 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, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
Page 82 - THE trees are in their autumn beauty, The woodland paths are dry, Under the October twilight the water Mirrors a still sky; Upon the brimming water among the stones Are nine-and-fifty swans. The nineteenth autumn has come upon me Since I first made my count; I saw, before I had well finished, All suddenly mount And scatter wheeling in great broken rings Upon their clamorous wings. I have looked upon those brilliant creatures, And now my heart is sore. All's changed...
Page 59 - I have met them at close of day Coming with vivid faces From counter or desk among grey Eighteenth-century houses. I have passed with a nod of the head Or polite meaningless words, Or have lingered awhile and said Polite meaningless words, And thought before I had done Of a mocking tale or a gibe 10 To please a companion Around the fire at the club, Being certain that they and I But lived where motley is worn: All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.
Page 323 - Both nuns and mothers worship images, But those the candles light are not as those That animate a mother's reveries, But keep a marble or a bronze repose. And yet they too break hearts— O Presences That passion, piety or affection knows, And that all heavenly glory symbolise— O self-born mockers of man's enterprise...
Page 222 - We are closed in, and the key is turned On our uncertainty; somewhere A man is killed, or a house burned, Yet no clear fact to be discerned: Come build in the empty house of the stare.
Page 153 - And may her bridegroom bring her to a house Where all's accustomed, ceremonious; For arrogance and hatred are the wares Peddled in the thoroughfares. How but in custom and in ceremony Are innocence and beauty born?
Page 327 - O sages standing in God's holy fire As in the gold mosaic of a wall, Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre, And be the singing-masters of my soul. Consume my heart away; sick with desire And fastened to a dying animal It knows not what it is; and gather me Into the artifice of eternity. Once out of nature I shall never take My bodily form from any natural thing...
Page 61 - Hearts with one purpose alone Through summer and winter seem Enchanted to a stone To trouble the living stream. The horse that comes from the road, The rider, the birds that range From cloud to tumbling cloud, Minute by minute they change...

About the author (2005)

Roy Foster is Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford, and a fellow of Hertford College. He has written widely on Irish history, society, and politics in the modern period, as well as on Victorian high politics and culture, and his publications include Lord Randolph Churchill: A Political Life (Oxford, 1981), Modern Ireland 1600-1972 (London, 1988), and The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making it up in Ireland (London, 2001). The first volume of this biography, W.B. Yeats, A Life. I: The Apprentice Mage 1865-1914 was published by OUP in 1997.

Bibliographic information