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The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats: Volume 1: The Poems

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The authorized canon of one of the world's most beloved poets, this is a collection of every poem William Butler Yeats approved for publication ... Show synopsis

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Reviews of The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats: Volume 1: The Poems

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Definitive edition of Yeats' poetry

by KBreda on May 2, 2009

William Butler Yeats published his collected poems in 1933. Yeats continued to write poetry until his death in 1939 and had planned to include his later poems in an expanded edition of the collected poems. Fifty years after Yeats?s death, Irish literature scholar Richard J. Finneran published a second edition of the Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats which he revised in 1996 based upon handwritten notations and revisions to the manuscripts of Yeats?s last poems. Thus, this revised second edition is the definitive collection. The Collected Poems separates the poems into two categories: lyrical and narrative/dramatic. The poems are arranged chronologically within each category and are numbered. Reading the poems in chronological order allows the reader to track Yeats?s artistic development, to see the poems in the context of Yeats?s life (the poems written during the final two decades of Yeats?s life are quite different from his earlier work) and to appreciate the thematic connections in series of poems. The book also features: i) an appendix containing Yeats?s notes to the first edition of the Collected Poems; ii) music composed by Edward Dulac for five of Yeats? poems, iii) indexes of titles and first lines, and iv) Finneran?s notes explaining literary, mythological, geographic, biographic and historical allusions in Yeats?s poetry. Yeats was well-versed in Celtic lore and classical mythology and freely alluded to legends, folklore and mythology in his poetry. I find Finneran?s explanatory notes exceedingly helpful and informative. Yeats?s poetry is among the most beautiful, stirring and haunting in all of English and Irish literature. This is as true for his earlier poems (?But I, being poor, have only my dreams; / I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.?) as it is for his later works (?Never to have lived is best, ancient writers say; / Never to have drawn the breath of life, never to have looked into the eye of day; / The second best?s a gay goodnight and quickly turn away.?). If you only have room for a single volume of Yeats, this is THE book to choose.

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