Mystic Poet – W.B. Yeats

Day 37 of Colorization Project – June 13

Born on this day, June 13 1865, in Dublin, William Butler Yeats was a Nobel Prize winning Irish poet, dramatist and mystic. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century.

He was born into the minority Protestant Anglo-Irish landowning class, yet Yeats was always staunch in affirming his Irish nationality. Yeats, a nationalist at heart could not abide what he saw as the hatred and bigotry of the Nationalist movement and became involved with the Celtic Revival movement, which fought against the cultural and imperial influences of English rule in Ireland.

WB Yeats

       Photographer – Alice Boughton 1903   –   Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Yeats’ works draw heavily on Irish mythology, folklore and history. In 1902, he helped set up the Dun Emer Press to publish work by writers associated with the Celtic Revival.

In 1899 he co-founded and was chief playwright for the Irish Literary Theatre, which went on to become the Abbey Theatre, and from 1904 also known as the National Theatre of Ireland.  It became the flagship for leading Irish playwrights and actors.

In 1904, Yeats and his sisters also started the Cuala Press, which printed over seventy titles by such authors as Ezra Pound, Rabindranath Tagore, Elizabeth Bowen and Patrick Kavanagh, before closing in 1946.

In 1922, he was elected to the Irish Senate and served for six years. In that same year, Yeats received an Honorary degree from Trinity College, Dublin.

With mounting success as a both a poet and a playwright, Yeats went on several lecture tours of the United States. His poetry, especially the volumes The Wild Swans at Coole (1919), Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1921), The Tower (1928), The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933), and Last Poems and Plays (1940), cemented his reputation as one of the most influential English writing poets of the twentieth-century and in 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In 1936 he compiled the poetry anthology,  Oxford Book of Modern Verse. (1892 – 1935). 

Curiously, he developed an early fascination in Hermeticism and spiritualism and after marriage to Georgie (George) Hyde Lees, he began experimenting with the psychic phenomenon called automatic writing, where the spirit world sends information via a sitter’s pen and hand. Together they held more than four hundred sessions of automatic writing, producing nearly four thousand pages. For Yeats, these sessions yielded many theories about life and the universe.

He died at the Hôtel Idéal Séjour, in Menton, France in 1939 at the age of seventy-three.


Hope and Memory have one daughter and her name is Art, and she has built her dwelling far from the desperate field where men hang out their garments upon forked boughs to be banners of battle. O beloved daughter of Hope and Memory, be with me for a little.—from “This Book”, The Celtic Twilight (1893)

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2 Responses to Mystic Poet – W.B. Yeats

  1. Pingback: Alice Boughton – Pioneer Photographer | Random Phoughts

  2. Pingback: Ezra Pound – Suburban Fascist Poet | Random Phoughts

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