William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)1
Yeats was an Irish poet, dramatist, mystic and public figure. Yeats was one of the driving forces behind the Irish Literary Revival and was co-founder of the Abbey Theatre.
His early work tended towards a romantic lushness and fantasy-like quality best described by the title of his 1893 collection The Celtic Twilight, but in his 40s, inspired by his relationships with modernist poets such as Ezra Pound and his active involvement in Irish nationalist politics, he moved towards a harder, more modern style.
As well as his role as member of the board of the Abbey, Yeats served as an Irish Senator. He took his role as a public figure seriously and was a reasonably hard-working member of the Seanad. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1923 for what the Nobel Committee described as "his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation". In 1934 he shared the Gothenburg Prize for Poetry with Rudyard Kipling.
Yeats was born in Sandymount, Dublin. His father, John Butler Yeats was studying law, but soon abandoned his studies to take up a career as a portrait painter. His mother, Susan Mary Pollexfen, came from an Anglo-Irish family in County Sligo. Soon after his birth, Yeats moved to Sligo to stay with his extended family and he came to think of it as his true childhood home.
Eventually, the family moved to London to enable John to further his career. At first, the Yeats children were educated at home. Their mother, who was homesick for Sligo, entertained them with stories and folktales from her native county. For financial reasons, the family returned to Dublin towards the end of 1880, living at first in the city center and later in the suburb of Howth.
Yeats' early poetry drew heavily on Irish myth and folklore and drew on the diction and colouring of pre-Raphaelite verse. His major influence in these years - and probably throughout the rest of his career as well - was Percy Bysshe Shelley. In 1885, Yeats' first poems, as well as an essay called "The Poetry of Sir Samuel Ferguson", were published in the Dublin University Review. Yeats' first significant poem was The Isle of Statues, a fantasy work that took Edmund Spenser for its poetic model. It appeared in Dublin University Review and was never republished. His first book publication was the pamphlet Mosada: A Dramatic Poem (1886), which had already appeared in the same journal.
The Yeats family had returned to London in 1887, and in 1890 Yeats co-founded the Rhymer's Club with Ernest Rhys. This was a group of like-minded poets who met regularly and published anthologies in 1892 and 1894.
In 1889, Yeats met Maud Gonne, a young heiress who was beginning to devote herself to the Irish nationalist movement. Gonne admired Yeats' early poem The Isle of Statues and sought out his acquaintance. Yeats developed an obsessive infatuation with Gonne, and she was to have a significant effect on his poetry and his life ever after. Two years after their initial meeting, Yeats proposed to her, but was rejected. He was to propose to Gonne a total of three more times: in 1899, 1900 and 1901. With each proposal, she rejected Yeats and finally, in 1903, married Irish nationalist John MacBride. This same year Yeats left for an extended stay in America on a lecture tour.
In 1896, he was introduced to Lady Augusta Gregory by their mutual friend Edward Martyn and she encouraged Yeats' nationalism and convinced him to continue focusing on writing drama. Although he was influenced by French Symbolism, Yeats consciously focused on an identifiably Irish content and this inclination was reinforced by his involvement with a new generation of younger and emerging Irish authors. Together with Lady Gregory and Martyn and other writers including J M Synge, Sean O'Casey, Padraic Colum and James Stephens, Yeats was one of those responsible for the establishment of the literary movement known as the Irish Literary Revival (otherwise known as the Celtic Revival).
One of the enduring achievements of the Revival was the setting up of the Abbey Theatre. In 1899 Yeats, Lady Gregory, Martyn and George Moore founded the Irish Literary Theatre. This survived for about two years but was not successful. However, working together with two Irish brothers with theatrical experience named William and Frank Fay and Yeats' unpaid secretary Annie Elizabeth Fredericka Horniman (a wealthy Englishwoman) the group established the Irish National Theatre Society. This group of founders was also able, along with J M Synge, to acquire property in Dublin and open the Abbey Theatre on December 27, 1904. Two of Yeats' plays were featured on the opening night. Yeats continued to be involved with the Abbey up to his death, both as a member of the board and as a prolific playwright.
In 1902, Yeats helped set up the Dun Emer Press to publish work by writers associated with the Revival. This became the Cuala Press in 1904. From then until its closure in 1946, the press, which was run by the poet's sisters, produced over 70 titles, 48 of them books by Yeats himself.
Yeats spent the summer of 1917 with Maud Gonne, and proposed to Gonne's daughter, Iseult, but was rejected. In September, he proposed to Georgie Hyde-Lees, was accepted, and the two were married on 20 October. Around this time he also bought Ballylee Castle, near Coole Park, and promptly renamed it Thoor Ballylee. This tower served as his summer home for much of the rest of his life.
Yeats was appointed to the Irish Senate (Seanad Éireann) in 1922 and one of his main achievements as a Senator was to chair the coinage committee that was charged with selecting a set of designs for the first coinage for the Irish Free State. He also spoke against proposed anti-divorce legislation in 1925. His own characterisation of himself as a public figure is captured in the line "A sixty-year-old smiling public man" in the 1927 poem "Amongst School Children". He retired from the Seanad in 1928 because of ill health.
In 1929, he stayed at Thoor Ballylee for the last time. Much of the remainder of his life was outside Ireland, but he did lease a house in the Dublin suburb of Rathfarnham from 1932. He wrote prolifically through the final years of his life, publishing poetry, plays and prose. In 1938, he attended the Abbey for the last time to see the premier of his play Purgatory.
After suffering from a variety of illnesses for a number of years, Yeats died at the Hôtel Idéal Séjour, in Menton, France on 28 January 1939. Soon afterward, Yeats was first buried at Roquebrune, until, in accordance with his final wish, his body was moved to Drumcliff in September, 1948, on the corvette Irish Macha.
His epitaph, which is the final line from one of his last poems, "Under Ben Bulben" is:
"Cast a cold eye
on life, on death;
horseman, pass by!"
Of this location, Yeats said, "the place that has really influenced my life most is Sligo."
1 This information was obtained from Wikipedia. Follow this link for the complete article and this link for a complete Bibliography of Yeats' work.
The container is a small tab-lock box, painted black. It is only big enough to hold small trade items.
When placed the cache contained a log book, pencil, sharpener, some small trade items and a FTF prize.
PLEASE ONLY TRADE UP OR EVEN.
TBs MOVE BETWEEN CACHES AND REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE PERSON THAT RELEASED THEM. I DO NOT COUNT THEM AS TRADE ITEMS.
IF YOU WISH TO TAKE SOMETHING FROM THIS CACHE PLEASE DON'T LEAVE A TB IN IT'S PLACE. THANK YOU.
Drumcliff is located approx 8km North of Sligo on the main Sligo - Letterkenny road (N15).
( Click the map on the right for a larger image)
The best parking spot is the coach park at N54o 19.546 W008o 29.613 but it closes at 6pm. An alternative is the smaller car park at N54o 19.575 W008o 29.709 .
The cache is located along the signposted riverside walk which is just beyond the cemetary from the coach car park. Its approx 5 mins walk from the coach park. The track is a little rough in places but shouldn't require boots.
GPS reception is a bit dodgy exactly at the cache spot so the hint may be required to find it.
Local Points of Interest
(click photo for full size image)
Cloths of Heaven
Visit the Geocaching Ireland discussion forum HERE