Ireland's greatest poet, William Butler Yeats, was also perhaps the most outstanding poet to have written in English since Wordsworth. Many of his early poems - wistful, mysterious and suffused with Pre-Raphaelite imagery - are of haunting beauty. But in the early 1900s Yeats became disillusioned with this twilight, imaginary world and turned his thoughts increasingly to reality. Directing his energies to the twin causes of the Irish literary renaissance and of Irish national independence, he evolved a new style - austere, but capable of sustained magnificence. Micheal Mac Liammoir and Eavan Boland trace Yeats' long and eventful career, covering such episodes as his directorship of the Abbey Theatre and service in the Irish Senate, as well as his poetic activities. They analyze, with acuteness and humor, the contradictory qualities of a genius who was both lovable and forbidding, worldly and unworldly, a practical mystic and a superstitious realist.
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