Turning and Turning: The Evolution of the Poetry of W.B. Yeats

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William Butler Yeats, born in 1865, is regarded as one of the pioneers of poetry in the 1900s. He is most well-remembered for his work focusing on the myths, folklore and history of Ireland, his home nation, but his other pieces have also found their way into the hearts of people around the world past and present. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to English and Irish literature. Along with Ezra Pound and T.S. Elliot, he is one of the most famous canonical Modernist poets: a genre of literature characterized by the use of free verse, concision, and a more musical sound to their writings (Surette).

Born into a well-off Irish family, William Butler Yeats became accustomed to order and regularity at an early age. Being from a highly aristocratic family, Yeats would have been strongly impacted by the gain of momentum behind the nationalist movement and the backlash against the British Protestantism being forced into Ireland (a traditionally Catholic nation). He was well exposed to the arts and was encouraged to participate himself. He discovered his affinity for writing and reading poetry in his youth and continued to embrace his love for the two while he studied at the Metropolitan School of Art (Jeffares). One of his first known works, written at the age of seventeen was a poem about a magician that is known to have been heavily influenced by the writings of Percey Bysshe Shelley, a lyric English Romantic Poet who lived in the early 19th century (Woodring).

At the age of 22, the Yeats family returned to London, John Butler Yeats’ homeland. There, William became increasingly more interested in the Irish nationalism movement and met Maude Gonne, a fervent feminist and nationalist who he developed a...

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