Archives for posts with tag: William Butler Yeats

by William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

BACKGROUND: When Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was a child, his father read to him from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. While a teenager, Yeats wished to imitate Thoreau by living on Innisfree, an uninhabited island in Lough Gill [County Sligo, Ireland]. Yeats would visit the land at Lough Gill at night — the trips taking him from the streets of Sligo to the remote areas around the lake, offering the contrasting images of the city and nature that appear in the poem’s text. While living in London, Yeats would walk down Fleet Street and long for the seclusion of a pastoral setting such as the isle. The sound of water coming from a fountain in a shop window reminded Yeats of the lake, and it is this inspiration that Yeats credits for the creation of the poem, written in 1888, when he was 23. (Read more at

PHOTO: “Isle of Innisfree, Lough Gill, Country Sligo, Ireland” by the Irish Image Collection. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature,  the first Irishman so honored, for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after receiving the Nobel Prize. (SOURCE:

by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Painting: “Blue William Butler Yates,” acrylic on canvas by Frank Cullen. Find prints of the portrait at



“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”  


ILLUSTRATION: “Butterfly Mask” by Bob Coonts, prints available at

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, Irish Poet and Dramatist (1865-1939)

Painting: “Blue William Butler Yates,” acrylic on canvas by Frank Cullen. Find prints of the portrait at


October 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of Poetry Magazine — the brainchild and life-long passion of Harriet Monroe. Born in Chicago in 1860, Monroe’s poetry career began at age 29 when Century Magazine published her poem “With a Copy of Shelly.”

While she tried to devote herself full-time to poetry, she needed to earn a living — and there were few opportunities at the time for poets. She later reflected, “The minor painter or sculptor was honored with large annual awards in our greatest cities, while the minor poet was a joke of the paragraphers, subject to the popular prejudice that his art thrived best on starvation in a garret.”

While working as a freelance correspondent for the Chicago Tribune in 1892, she was asked to write a poem to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the New World. When the New York World reprinted the poem without her permission, she sued and received a $5,000 judgment.


The monetary award served as seed money for Monroe’s lofty ambition — a respected poetry publication that paid contributors a respectable sum for their work. Monroe realized that to launch her magazine, she’d need to make a commitment to her readers and contributors to be there — and not go under for lack of funds.

She got the brilliant idea to go to 100 prominent Chicago business leaders and ask each to take out a five-year subscription — at a $50 annual fee. With the initial year’s subscriptions coupled with her settlement money, Monroe launched Poetry Magazine in 1912. (First issue pictured above.)

For the publication’s first two years, Monroe served as non-paid editor while working as art critic for the Chicago Tribune. In 1914, she began to devote herself full-time to Poetry Magazine, at a subsidence salary of $50 per month. (About ten years later, she was still pouring all subscription money into the magazine and to pay contributors — but managed to raise her salary to a still-low $100 per month.)

Poetry Magazine has been credited with bringing poetry into the modern age — and democratizing the art. When soliciting work from writers, Monroe promised an open-door policy and “…a chance to be heard in their own place, without the limitations imposed by the popular magazine…this magazine will appeal to, and it may be hoped, will develop, a public primarily interested in poetry as an art, as the highest, most complete expression of truth and beauty.”

Over the century, Poetry Magazine has counted some of the country’s leading poets as among its discoveries. These include: Gwendolyn Brooks, James Merrill, and John Ashbery. The magazine’s biggest coup was the 1915 publication of  T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Other prominent contributors include: Ezra Pound, William Butler Yeats, Wallace Stevens, Carl Sandburg, and William Carlos Williams. Poetry Magazine is currently published by the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation.

Harriet Monroe continued to serve as editor of Poetry Magazine until her death in 1936, at age 75, while in Peru on her way to climb Macchu Picchu. But her beloved publication lives on — what a legacy! 

Note: A nod to Wikipedia for information used in this article.