‘Only the greatest gift of all, your dreams, to give’ -Yeat’s Poem Of The Week

William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet, dramatist, writer and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature, says Gill Ward.

‘He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and became a pillar of the Irish literary establishment who helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served two terms as a Senator of the Irish Free State.

Irish legends and the occult

He  was educated in Dublin and London and spent childhood holidays in County Sligo. He studied poetry from an early age, when he became fascinated by Irish legends and the occult.

His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and its slow-paced and lyrical poems display debts to Edmund SpenserPercy Bysshe Shelley and the poets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

A change in style

From 1900 his poetry grew more physical, realistic and politicised. He moved away from the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with some elements including cyclical theories of life. 

 This is just a short catch up as most of you will be familiar with Yeats and his poetry. His life was intense, involved and interesting combining literature, politic and women. I suggest the Poetry foundation or Wikipedia to get a great deal of background re Yeats’ life and poetry.

However the world is so changed and so distressing these days that I felt I needed a simple, gentle poem for this week so I started re reading Yeats with a new agenda. This is the beautiful poem I chose  I hope it makes some of you feel like reading more Yeats.

This work of Yeats explores the idea of wanting to give gifts to someone you love, but having only the greatest gift of all, your dreams, to give. Simple, short and moving.’


He  Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”   William Butler Yeats

 Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, 

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

 The blue and the dim and the dark cloths 

Of night and light and the half light,

 I would spread the cloths under your feet:

 But I, being poor, have only my dreams; 

I have spread my dreams under your feet; 

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Thanks, Gill. It is always good to return to the ‘old’ poems. I’m not a fan of a lot of modern poetry. I probably dont understand it!

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