When in Ireland, get lost in the words of W.B. Yeats.

30 Jun

I’m taking an Irish Literature and Film course at the National University of Ireland in Galway this summer, and for the first 2 class periods, we have focused on the poetry of William Butler Yeats. I’ve read Yeats’ poetry before, but there is something really special about reading poetry by someone who wrote his poetry in the country that you’re currently studying in. Or, in another sense, reading poetry in the country where it can be best interpreted.

According to the notes I took in class, William Butler Yeats was a late romantic poet who absorbed the impact of Gaelic folklore as subject matter for his poetry. He was interested in old legends, and therefore he took old folklore and tried to make it relevent. He also felt that the modern world had become culturally impoverished, so he strived to renew the modern world by showing the capacity of the imagination. Yeats was impacted by fairy stories because they had deep connections for him to the human imagination.

One of my favorite poems that we read by Yeats was “Song of Wandering Aengus.” In this poem, Yeats uses the idea of the supernatural as a symbol for art. Also, the poem discusses what it means to be a poet, while also emphasizing that you must follow your vision, no matter where it leads you. Here is the poem (from http://wanderingminstrels.blogspot.ie):

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
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7 Responses to “When in Ireland, get lost in the words of W.B. Yeats.”

  1. LA Edwards June 30, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    Fabulous poem. One of my personal favorites. I love WBYates! How wonderful for you to be in Ireland studing some of the greats such as he! Most fortunate girl. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  2. belasbrightideas July 1, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    Love it. And glad you’re able to take a course while there – how fun!

    • ameliaclaire92 July 2, 2012 at 4:40 am #

      Yeah, I’m glad I can take courses while I’m here too. 🙂

  3. fiztrainer July 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    LOVE LOVE LOVE Yeats! Amazing! 😀

  4. 4amWriter July 8, 2012 at 5:34 am #

    Yeats is one of my fave poets. You are so lucky to study his poetry in Ireland!

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