Wednesday, June 13, 2012
June 13 is the birthdate of the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats. He was born and educated in Dublin but spent his childhood in County Sligo. From his youth he was fascinated by Irish legends and the occult, which figured in the early phases of his work (to the turn of the 20th century). As a Symbolist poet, he used allusive imagery and symbolic structures to suggest abstract thoughts and timeless themes. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923, the first Irishman so honoured, for "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." Yeats is relatively unique in that he completed his greatest works after receiving the Nobel Prize, including The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929). He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he still focused on physical and spiritual masks and cyclical theories of life. Pictured: pencil sketch of Yeats by John Singer Sargent.