Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths,
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet, Nobel Prize winner and well-known/often-cited literary figure. He was inspired by Irish myth and folklore as well as the writings of William Blake.
This guy is responsible for a lot of the Stock Quotes floating around in pop culture. His poem "The Second Coming" is the source of many Literary Allusion Titles and is his most famous and most referenced worknote . If you hear a Fauxlosophic Narration, read a snippet of poetry preceding a bunch of prose or even see a character trying to sound deep and meaningful, there is a reasonably good chance that William Butler Yeats is being quoted.
He was also one of the founders of Dublin's famous Abbey Theatre, and actually shamed a mob who rioted at the premiere of Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars there.
Also, his last name is pronounced "Yates," not "Yeets."
The entirety of his work can be found here.
Works by Yeats with their own pages:
Tropes featured in his other works:
- Arcadia: He viewed the place he spent his summers in Sligo as this. He expresses his desire to live this way permanently in "The Lake Isle of Innisfree".
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: What he strives to do in Sailing to Byzantium, a metaphor for achieving poetic immortality. He describes himself leaving his "dying animal" body behind with the help of Byzantine "holy sages" and making himself a body of pure artifice in the form of a gold and enamel bird, who would sit on a branch and sing of the past, present and future.
- Betty and Veronica: In "A Prayer For My Daughter", he observes that courtesy, charm, and kindness may trump beauty.
- Broken Bird: He laments that this happened to two female Irish revolutionaries and suffragettes that he knew in his youth, in "In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz."note One was sentenced to death (commuted to prison time) for taking part in a revolt, and the other one lived out a sad life pursuing radical politics. The poem ends with Yeats lighting a match and threatening to burn down time itself for doing this to them, saying that "the innocent and beautiful/have no enemy but time."
- Death Seeker: "An Irish Airman Foresees his Death," not so much out of despair, but out of yearning for a final thrill and a distaste for growing old.
- Designated Villain: "September 1913" attacks the Catholic merchant middle classes for being greedy and materialistic. It was inspired by the city council not wanting to give money to open an art gallery at the request of Hugh Lane...right when living conditions in the city were terrible. So chances are they might not have wanted to splash out on something quite so frivolous.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: "For Anne Gregory"
- He Also Did: Epic poetry. The Wanderings of Oisin is one of his early works, a short epic (or epyllion) about the legendary Irish hero Oisin, also known as "Ossian," who travels with an immortal named Niamh to the Land of Faerie. It was unpopular in its time for being too classical in form and setting (as well as occasionally clumsy on a poetic level), and it has lapsed into obscurity. Most people casually familiar with his later works have never heard of it.
- So Beautiful It's a Curse: In "A Prayer for my Daughter", he wants a little less than this.
- Swans A-Swimming: "The Wild Swans at Coole"
- Take That!: "September 1913" is one to the Catholic merchant middle classes. ''On Being Asked to Write a War Poem" is a short, somewhat gentler one to people who want him to be more topical.