1939 – Death of William Butler Yeats.

William Butler Yeats was born in Dublin, the son of painter John Butler Yeats, he spent much of his childhood in Co Sligo which was a huge source of inspiration for him, not least the beautiful ‘Lake Isle of Inisfree’.

In 1917, William Butler Yeats published ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’, and from then onward he reached and maintained the height of his achievement. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and, as a celebrated figure, he was indisputably one of the most significant modern poets and confounded expectations by producing his greatest work between the ages of 50 and 75.

Yeats’ love life was as interesting as his artistic work. At Fifty-two years, he got married, but not to Maud Gonne, the love of his life. Instead he married 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees (1892–1968) despite the fact that only weeks previously, Yeats had proposed to Maud Gonne’s daughter, Iseult Gonne, from her French Boulangist lover Lucien Millevoye. Her husband, John MacBride, participated in the rebellion and was executed afterward. Yeats reacted by writing ‘Easter, 1916,’ an eloquent expression of his complex feelings of shock, romantic admiration, and a more realistic appraisal.

Despite the strange circumstances the marriage of Yeats and Hyde-Lees was a happy one producing two children.



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One thought on “1939 – Death of William Butler Yeats.

  1. I closed my eyes, listening to his sonorous voice. My father and the family would spend the summers in Callow,
    Foxford, Mayo. I’d spend the whole day in the River Moy – collecting small shell fish, looking for “The Pearl of Great Price” I had secret places in the “Hazel Wood” because a ‘fire was in my head’. If I went out early enough, I would find rings of fresh mushrooms for breakfast.
    The last Sunday night in July – we could see candlelight pilgrims winding their way to the top of Croagh Patrick.
    That was 60 years ago. I’m 72 now – living in Los Angeles. NOTHING has ever come close to that, anywhere in the
    world -and I’ve been every where. I was truly between heaven and earth. Yeats brought it all home to me.

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