ISBN 978 1 84351 645 3
The thirty-six contributors include former Yeats Summer School Directors: Helen Vendler, Denis Donoghue and James Pethica, Ann Margaret Daniels, as well as Patrick M. Keane, Harvard professors Deirdre Toomey and Daniel Albright, Yeats Annual editor Warwick Gould, publisher Colin Smythe, professor and director of Otago University, New Zealand, Peter Kuch, Tokyo professor Tomoko Iwatsubo, biographer Ann Saddlemyer, critics Lucy McDiarmid, Bruce Stewart and Martin Mansergh: in all, a glittering gathering of writers lend weight to this important commemorative and historical work.
W.B. Yeats, Hans Christian Andersen, Susan Pollexfen Yeats, S.T. Coleridge and Children’s Stories Maneck H. Daruwala .
Away Deirdre Toomey.
Byzantine Materiality and Byzantine Vision: ‘Hammered Gold and Gold Enamelling’ Warwick Gould .
A. E. I. O. U.: George Russell, National Being José Lanters.
Elegy and Affirmation in W.B. Yeats’s The Winding Stair Patrick J. Keane.
Reading ‘The Cold Heaven’ Denis Donoghue .
Suspended Endings – Nothing ‘but’ Yeats Peter Kuch.
Collecting Yeats and Publishing Lady Gregory’s Coole Edition Colin Smythe.
The Middle Realm Neil Mann.
‘Coole and Ballylee, 1931’: Yeats’s Elegy for the Poetic Demesne Tomoko Iwatsubo.
Yeats and the Oxford Book of Modern Verse Lucy McDiarmid.
Homecoming: Yeats and Sligo Anne Margaret Daniel.
Desolation of Reality: W.B. Yeats and the Nihilism of His Age Bruce Stewart.
W.B. Yeats’s Poetry of Violence Carolyn Masel.
Some Stray Personal Thoughts on Yeats and Music, Touching on McIntyre, Burns, MacLean and the Oral Tradition John Purser.
Less to spoil: Dance in the Plays of W.B. Yeats Richard Londraville.
Breaking the Code: the Drama Workshop at the Yeats International Summer School, Sligo Sam McCready.
‘The Labyrinth of Conscience’ – Uses of Dramatic Space in W.B. Yeats’s The Dreaming of the Bones Melinda Szüts.
The Yeats Family
George Yeats – A Not So Reluctant Writer? Ann Saddlemyer.
Anne Yeats (1919–2001) A Twentieth-Century Artist Hilary Pyle.
‘Living in an elastic-sided world’: John Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory James L. Pethica.
The Art Which Is True Is as Lively as Life. Jack B. Yeats’s Modern Aspects of Irish Art Reconsidered Elisabeth Ansel.
Michael B. Yeats: A Committed Irish and European Legislator Martin Mansergh.
The Musicality of W.B. Yeats Doug Saum . Chaos, Prophecy and the Celtic Hero: ‘The Second Coming’ by W.B. Yeats, an Alternative Interpretation Craig Kirk . Reconstructing W.B.: Memoirs of Yeats as Indices in Literary Ireland Katy Plowright.
‘A Presence which is not to be put by’ Kristóf Kiss .
sligeach: sligo – ‘the place of shells’ slí dhá átha – ‘the way of the two fords’
A Glimpse of the Geology of ‘The Yeats Country’ Gerry Foley.
Train Home John Kavanagh.
Sligo Town in the Childhood Days of ‘Willy and Lily and Lollie and Jack’ Fiona Gallagher.
Tug of the Mythic Earl Livings .
‘Sorry about that Mr Yeats!’ Ita McMorrow-Leyden.
Burial at Drumcliffe John Carroll
W.B. Yeats Poetry Prizes
iYeats Poetry Competition. Poetry Ireland Secondary Schools Competition
Annual W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize for Australia .
Annual W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize of New York .
Tír na Nóg
Thomas Rice Henn (1901–74) An Appreciation Glen Cavaliero.
The Place of Shells T. R. Henn (1901–74).
Yeats: The Great Comedian Vincent Buckley (1925–88).
Yeats: The Poet Alec King (1904–70) .
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Speech by Dr Katharine Mc Sharry at the launch of "Yeats 150" at the office of Lilliput Press, Dublin, Thursday Jan 28, 2016
Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests,
It is a great pleasure to be here this evening, and to speak to you on the launch of this magnificent volume, Yeats150, edited by the indefatigable Declan Foley, who only arrived here from Australia on Tuesday morning.
As you know, we at the National Library have a particularly close and long-lasting relationship with WB Yeats. He was a familiar figure in the library from its very earliest days, dating back to those years in the 1880s when we were still based in Leinster House, and his timeless legacy to us and to people everywhere has been the extraordinary archive of papers so generously donated over the decades by his family. Indeed, his personal library of books is now housed in our Director’s office on Kildare Street, a physical representation of our long connections (and just one more of the reasons why it’s the nicest office in Dublin.) The library, incidentally, tells us that Yeats was as likely as the rest of us to borrow a book from someone and not return it, with multiple volumes clearly having experienced what one might characterise as an ownership transition, quite probably without the original owner’s consent. “You were silly like us” Auden says in his elegy for Yeats, in reassurance that even great writers are human; while adding “your gift survived it all” – the talent so dazzling, so remarkable, and so enduring that has delighted generations, and inspired millions in the myriad ways reflected in this book.
With that shared history, the National Library was delighted to play our part throughout the Yeats150 celebrations, and now to have the privilege to launch this book as a crowning achievement of that extraordinary national and international celebration of one of our greatest writers. The fact that the volume is dedicated to Seamus Heaney, another much loved friend of the library, and features Helen Vendler’s wonderful tribute to Yeats’s fellow Nobel laureate makes this opportunity particularly special.
How often are we warned not to judge a book by its cover? Yet in this instance I strongly encourage you to do just that. Niall McCormack’s design, the boldly elegant simplicity of black, red, white, is elemental and powerful. It is strikingly impressive – and as such an entirely reliable guide to its contents. It’s particularly suitable that it should be so, for Yeats himself, of course, believed strongly in the visual impact of the book as object, and sought in the unity of design and content the creation of a complete work of art. He took an enormous interest in the appearance of his works, and had extended creative relationships with several of the artists who created the memorable covers of so many of them, from Althea Gyles to Sturge Moore. The particular symbol chosen here – the charging unicorn created by Robert Gregory for Discoveries – is very rich. Unicorns appear with important symbolic freight through the Yeatsian decades, and he wrote to his sister in 1920 that “In truth it is a mystical symbol belonging to my order…It is the soul.” How appropriate that this image should introduce a volume into which the editor has clearly poured his heart and soul, creating something, like the unicorn, both rare and beautiful.
The book is the literary equivalent of the Yeats summer school – a gathering of scholars, friends and Sligo natives to celebrate 150 years since the birth of WBY. With 36 essays by celebrated writers and critics (from Ireland, the UK, North America, Hungary, Japan, Australia and New Zealand), it showcases the range and reach of Yeats’s work across the globe.
The reader is led on a fascinating journey through Yeats’s poetry and plays, encountering studies of his family and friends, as well as paying homage to the Sligo landscape that was such an early influence on his imagination. A section, titled Tír na nÓg includes essays by deceased academics T.R. Henn, Vincent Buckley and Alec King, representing different phases of Yeats criticism from 1945 onwards.
It is striking how many aspects of Yeats’s life and works are represented here. Indeed Dennis Donoghue’s line that Yeats invented a country and called it Ireland might well be adapted to Ireland invented a national figure and called him Yeats! Donoghue’s wonderful essay here on “The Cold Heaven” advocates the practice of “reading in slow motion, as if you were leading someone arduously though happily through a poem in a foreign language” (p172) Such care and attention to Yeats’s language and form is evident throughout the volume – from Warwick Gould’s beautifully illustrated essay on the glories of Byzantine art and culture to Lucy McDiarmid’s consideration of Yeats’s Oxford Book of Modern Verse as “the most insulted anthology of poetry ever made” to James Pethica’s account of the uneasy alliance between Lady Gregory and Yeats’s father.
Ann Saddlemyer turns our attention to George Yeats not only as collaborator in the occult experiments that reinvigorated Yeats but to her lively correspondence with trusted friends. Yeats’s children, Anne and Michael also move out of the framework of Yeats’s ‘Prayer for my Daughter’ and ‘Prayer for my Son’ and into the light of their own achievements. And thinking of new generations of achievement, perhaps the greatest evidence of Yeats’s legacy is to be found in the section on the poetry competitions held in Ireland, New York and Australia. Here Declan Foley must take a bow for his diligence and vision in organizing the prize from 1996-2004 and again from 2011 in Australia. These wonderful poems show how Yeats continues to inspire, entertain and challenge us – “Irish poets learn your trade!”
However, if there is one thread connecting all the contributions to this wonderful book, it is undoubtedly Sligo – the place of which Yeats said, “For me, Sligo is Ireland . . . I longed for earth from a road there that I might kiss it.” The home of his mother’s family, the Pollexfens, Sligo provided the young Yeats with magic, mystery and a connection to Ireland’s mythic past. The essays collected here on the Yeats family illuminate how the people and landscape of Sligo are indelibly written into his life and work. In Fiona Gallagher’s essay, we return to the childhood days of “Willy and Lily and Lollie and Jack” and with the guidance of Elizabeth Ansel, view again Jack Yeats’s most famous Sligo painting, Memory Harbour, which filled WBY with “disquiet and excitement . . . and I am melancholy because I have not made more and better verses.”
The book ends, as all journeys with Yeats must, in Drumcliffe church with a personal reminiscence by John Carroll who was present at Yeats’s re-interment in 1948. And it is another Sligo native, Declan Foley, who has truly honored Yeats with this wonderful collection of new and old, here and abroad, past and present. On this anniversary of Yeats’s death – January 28th, 1939 – it is heartening to see Auden’s suggestion that “poetry makes nothing happen,” disproved once again through the evidence of this excellent book. Congratulations to Declan Foley and his publisher Lilliput, and I encourage you all to enjoy the enormous reading pleasure ahead and to raise a glass to the shade of the poet and to Yeats150.