The Life and Work of William Butler Yeats

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The Life and Work of William Butler Yeats

Born in Dublin in the year 1865, William Butler Yeats would go on to become universally recognized by his peers as the greatest poet of this century writing in the English language. This recognition would come as early as 1828, a decade before his death with the publication of arguably his finest volume, The Tower (Fraser, 207). The son of one time attorney and later well known painter John Butler Yeats, W.B. Yeats was of partially Cornish and Gaelic decent, born near Dublin and raised between both England and Ireland.

Though born in Dublin and raised between England and Ireland, Yeats would develop, through his mother, a love for the west country of Ireland that would last all his life. Parts of his childhood and later vacations would be spent in County Sligo, the childhood home of both his parents. Yeats would later depict his beloved County Sligo in such works as "The Lake Isle of Innisfree". These works would serve as a symbol of his imaginative escape from the disappointments and unpleasant realities of life (Magill, 1957).

Yeats's childhood would be broad in education and personal experiences. Yeats would become a youth full of internal contradictions, often spawned by his desire to question all that he was taught. Spiritually, educationally, and personally, Yeats seemed to himself pulled in different directions, unable to decide on a clear path. These internal contradictions would come to shape the writer and man that he would one day become.

Much of childhood for Yeats was spent in London, where he attended the Godolphin School. At the age of fifteen, Yeats returned to Dublin and attended the Erasmus Smith School. In the tradition of his family, Yeats studied art...

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