References to supernatural Celtic beings and the Irish spirit world abound in Yeats's early poetry. To make these passages seem less arcane, a look at the Tuatha de Danaan, the Sidhe, and the fairies is helpful.
The Tuatha de Danaan literally means "people of the goddess Danu," Danu being a Celtic land or mother goddess, perhaps derived from the Sanskrit river goddess, Danu. Other associated names for her were the Welsh "Don," Irish "Anu" or "Ana," "Mor-Rioghain," and "Brighid."
The Tuatha de Dannan were considered supernatural, angelic-like beings who came to Ireland and encountered two groups that they successfully overcame. Epic battles were waged to defeat both the Firbolgs and the Fomorians.
The Firbolgs, early Irish settlers, were a short, dark race of men who derived their name from carrying clay in bags, or boilg, hence the name "fir bolg" meaning "bag men." Believed to be of early Greek origin, the mortal Firbolgs were overthrown by the god-like Tuatha de Danaan.
The other army that lost in combat with the Danaan fighte...
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...Richard. Yeats: The Man and the Masks. New York: Norton, 1979.
Gregory, Lady. Gods and Fighting Men. New York: Oxford UP, 1970.
Jeffares, A. Norman. A Commentary on the Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. Stanford, CA:
Stanford UP, 1968.
Jeffares, A. Norman. W.B. Yeats: Man and Poet. New York: Barnes, 1966.
Malins, Edward. A Preface to Yeats. New York: Scribner's, 1974.
O hOgain, Daithi. Myth, Legend and Romance: An Encyclopedia of the Irish Folk Tradition.
New York: Prentice, 1991.
O' Suilleabhain, Sean. Irish Folk Customs and Belief. Dublin: Folklore, 1967.
Skelton, Robin, and Ann Saddlemyer, eds. The World of W.B. Yeats, revised ed. Seattle, WA: U of Washington P, 1967.
Yeats, W.B. The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, 2nd revised ed. Ed. Richard J. Finneran.
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