He had by then decided that he would be a poet and his first poems were published in the Dublin University Review.
In his early years as a poet, he tried to follow the romantic tradition. In this phase he seems to have been influenced especially by the poems of Edmund Spenser, William Blake and Percy Bysshe Shelley. He has called himself one of the "last romantics"1 in a poem "Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931". In fact, he evolved into one of the first modern poets of the twentieth century.
His first collection of poems Crossways was published in 1889-the same year he had met the woman who was to be the great passion (unrequited) of his life till his dying day. In the Seven Woods (1904), The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910), Responsibilities (1914), The Wild Swans at Coole(1919), Michael Robartes and the Dancer(1921), The Tower (1928), The Winding Stair and Other Poems(1933), A Full Moon in March(1935) and Last Poems (1936-1939) are the other significant collections of his poetry. He has also written a number of plays and was an important figure in the revival of the Irish theater. He became senator of the new Irish Free State in 1922. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1939, "he became his admirers"2 as W.H. Auden put it in his elegy, "In Memory of W.B.Yeats."
Auden mentioned in his elegy Yeats's "parish of rich women....
He became senator of the new Irish Free State in 1922. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1939, "he became his admirers"2 as W.H. Auden put it in his elegy, "In Memory of W.B.Yeats."
1 W.B. Yeats, Collected Poems (London: Macmillan, 1993) 276.
2 W.H. Auden, Collected Poems (London: Faber, 1976) 197.
Auden mentioned in his elegy Yeats's "parish of rich women."3 Yeats had many women friends and well-wishers, but the predominant passion and overwhelming love of his life was his unrequited love for Maud Gonne, a woman he equated with Helen of Troy and even the goddess Venus/Aphrodite herself. Rainer Emig has observed that
. . . love in all its aspects . . . is central in most of Yeats's poems. This is self-evident in his early and middle period. Yet even his later and last poems circle around the issue, although the treatment is now a different one, and the poems try to envisage love in connection with universal laws and forces located outside the individual. 4
This dissertation traces the development of Yeats's love poetry (especially the poems inspired by Maud Gonne) and comes to the conclusion that the motif of love continued as strong as ever and remained as integral a part of the poet as the blood in his veins to the end of his life.
3 Auden, 197.
4 Rainer Emig, Modernism in Poetry: Motivations, Structures and Limits (London: Longman, 1995) 47.
"With Her Would I Fly"
Any serious reader would be prepared to accept the fact that the early poems of even a poet like Yeats might seem unequal to those he written in maturer years. Malins and Purkis stress, at the start of their introduction to A Preface to Yeats that "Yeats begins as an Irish poet of the Celtic Revival-a narrow nationalist