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W.B. Yeats: Poems Selected by Seamus Heaney (Poet to Poet)

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  3,362 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) was not only Ireland's greatest poet but one of the most influential voices in world literature in the twentieth century. His extraordinary work, in the words of this volume's editor Seamus Heaney, encourages us to be more resolutely and abundantly alive, whatever the conditions.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 3rd 2001 by Faber & Faber Ltd. (first published 1939)
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Jul 25, 2016 Florencia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The last stroke of midnight dies.
All day in the one chair
From dream to dream and rhyme to rhyme I have
In rambling talk with an image of air:
Vague memories, nothing but memories.

— W.B. Yeats, “Broken Dreams”, The Wild Swans at Coole (1919)

From the depths of anything mysterious and unfathomable, here come bursts of poetry moving across the years, making impressions with an assortment of intensities and kaleidoscopic visualizations: W.B. Yeats and his unique art. This collection includes vers
Huda Yahya
Aug 10, 2016 Huda Yahya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
عين باردة تحدّق في الحياة
وفي الموت
وفارس يعبر بينهما

ذلك الفارس المغموس بكليته في بحور الشعر
هو ويليام بتلر ييتس
الشاعر الأيرلندي الممسوس بجنون من نوع خاص
والمشدود إلى عالم الغرائبيات الساحر بكل ما أوتي من عبقرية
ومنطق يتخطى حدود البشر

ييتس صنع من الشعر جناحين عملاقين
وطار بهما محلقا
حاملا قراءة من كل العصور معه

أنت تقرأ ييتس
أنت لم تعد على الأرض


If you have revisited the town, thin Shade,
Whether to look upon your monument
(I wonder if the builder has been paid)
Or happier
When You Are Old

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face a
Jan 21, 2012 Trevor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Sound file of this review here:

I’ve always been particularly fond of Yeats. Recently I’ve been told twice in quick succession he was more than just a little rightwing politically and that this ought to put me off him. The problem is that getting turned off poets just because they are rightwing wouldn’t really leave me all that many poets to read.

I tend to buy my oldest daughter books of selected poems for Christmas – I’m not quite sure why or how it even
Aug 30, 2013 Rowena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, poetry
The poems I liked, I really liked. However, there were quite a few that I didn't much care for and found difficult to understand. I do appreciate that Yeat's poems must have spoke more to Irish people at the time of writing, especially the poems which referenced Parnell, Irish nationalism etc. I also think I would have enjoyed the poems more with more knowledge of mythology as a lot of the poems do reference mythical characters, some that I've never heard of.

Two of my favourite poems from this b
Maru Kun
Having only ever read Yeats "easier" and often anthologised poems I hadn't realised how difficult much of his work could be. Well, at least I learnt some Irish history and mythology.

And here is one of his that even I could understand, although given his Celtic roots shouldn't this be about redheads rather than blondes?

For Anne Gregory

"Never shall a young man,
Thrown into despair
By those great honey coloured
Ramparts at your ear,
Love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair."

"But I shall get
Sep 03, 2016 Rikke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, owned-books
"For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.

I am perhaps a very selective reader of Yeats' poetry. I do not like all of his poems, but some of them I love and cherish with all of my heart. Perhaps this is due to the fact that in order to understand the majority of his poems an extensive knowledge of Irish culture and mythology is required - which I sadly lack.
And also, these poems are meant to be heard, and ideally to be read aloud in a soft Irish
Jan 14, 2016 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-authors
Here are some samples from the book:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’
Feb 23, 2013 Bethan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I feel so guilty because I want to like Yeats but while there are one or two amazing poems, like 'Leda and the Swan' and 'An Irish Airman Forsees His Death', or one or two that are very interesting and strikingly expressed, like 'The Second Coming' or 'The Circus Animal's Desertion', overall, I find Yeats boring a lot of the time and a bit repugnant for his conservative nature, such as his nationalism.

I found it hard to concentrate and understand a lot of his poems and I didn't really come away
Jan 11, 2009 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful poetry. The focus is largely on Irish history, but I think behind that is a genuine search for what is most important in life. Though I appreciated the beautiful language and what I thought the message was, I still felt like much of it went over my head.
Laura Esther Rivers
This was a strange one for me...very on and off. Still undecided if I would call myself a 'fan' of his work. Some of his poetry delights me, the rest I would have happily skimmed through. I didn't skim however, just wanted him to redeem himself...but he failed.
Dec 26, 2009 Ty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Contains one of my all time favourite poem: An Irish Airman Foresees His Death.

Those that I fight, I do not hate
Those that I guard, I do not love

-W.B. Yeats
Grant Patten
Jan 16, 2016 Grant Patten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Circus Animals' Desertion


I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last, being but a broken man,
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.


What can I but enumerate old themes,
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain batt
Jay Daze
Jan 26, 2015 Jay Daze rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, own
A volume of selected poems is a strange beast to read and then to consider afterwards. Mostly there is an awe at what a strange and rich collection of poetry this book has in it. There is his obsession with Maud Gonne - which even setting aside a certain tradition of stalkerish love poetry will be interesting to read about further. Then there is the mystic poetry, his tendency to make up his own symbology - something designed to drive newbs like myself slightly batty. But above all there are the ...more
May 18, 2016 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this about five years ago for a project and have just now gotten around to reading it. I started it feeling very excited - Yeats is so lyrical and imaginative and so obviously enamored with nature and myths. His poetry is so beautiful. But I think as I continued through the book, I found it harder to understand a lot of his poems. Many of them seemed to go all over the place or refer to myths and gods I am unfamiliar with. It made reading the poetry more like a chore. All in all, the po ...more
Ned Cody
Jan 24, 2015 Ned Cody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yeats can be irritating sometimes: snobbish, attitudinizing...His symbolism can be off-putting, and so can his name-dropping.

But anyone who can write about a savage god in one poem:

We, who still labour by the cromlech on the shore,
The grey cairn on the hill, when day sinks drowned in dew,
Being weary of the world's empires, bow down to you,
Master of the still stars and of the flaming door;

and utter this gentle plea to his love in another:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams.
I have spread
Dec 01, 2015 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university
The start of this collection was wonderful: I loved the dream-like imagery,the long lines and the Romantic outlook in the poems of Irish Folklore. Many of them were just simply beautiful. However, the further I got through the book, the more the poems seemed to become ambiguous and obscure, and although this was a crucial development in to Modernism and into what Yeats idealized in terms of his poetry, sadly I felt like the lack of the Romantic, elegant language made his later poems seem sparse ...more
Jul 18, 2011 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
William Butler Yeats, the first Irishman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, is not only one of the greatest poets of the 20th century but one of the most widely read. The landscape, myths, legends, and folklore of his homeland lie at the heart of his poetic imagination, and the unique musicality of Ireland adds to the richness of his verse. But the themes of his poetry are universal and timeless: the conflict between life and death, love and hate, and the meaning of man’s existence in an imp ...more
Dec 07, 2010 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, irish
I think Yeats at his best is fantastic, as some individual poems are absolutely magnificent. There were occasional times in reading this collection where I had to stop, and read something again to make sure it was exactly as incredible as I had thought it was the first time. It always was. The problem was that poems like that are kind of few and far between. For every great poem there are three or four pages worth that just didn't speak to me at all. This isn't to say that they are totally witho ...more
Apr 23, 2013 Tracy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read many of the poems years ago -- grad school, what else? -- but I still love to teach and read Yeats. I needed one of his early, embarassing poems that is mentioned in a book I was teaching. The poem I needed was one of his that inspired the Wikipedia entry that says his poetry became better as he aged, unlike many poets.

That much is certain.

I do drag this book out from time to time. Not that long ago, we read poems of his outloud during a dinner party. We all thought he meant different thi
Jun 28, 2008 Ladypoet33 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like poetry
Recommended to Ladypoet33 by: nobody, I just picked it up myself

My favorite:

An Appointment
By. W.B. Yeats

Being out of heart with government
I took a broken root to fling
Where the proud, wayward squirrel went,
Taking delight that he could spring;
And he, with that low whinnying sound
That is like laughter, sprang again
And so to the other tree at a bound
Nor the tame will, nor timid brain,
Nor heavy knitting of the brow
Bred that fierce tooth and cleanly limb
And threw him up to laugh on the bough;
No government appointed him.

What more can I say? The poem speaks for its
Felix Purat
Sep 18, 2014 Felix Purat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Overall, I would say that the poems Seamus Heaney chose to represent his tower-dwelling predecessor William Butler Yeats were very well chosen, though I don't know enough about Yeats' other poems to make a more sound judgment. Suffice to say that what was here was beautiful, including the Fiddler of Dooney, now one of my favourite poems of the sort Yeats wrote. Certainly an interesting way to introduce oneself to the world of Yeats, and well formatted as well as they are not typed in that scrunc ...more
Anthony Buckley
It's the first time I have really looked at Yeats's poetry. Perhaps not surprisingly, I found the famous ones the most enjoyable. Some, of the other I found remarkably clumsy and poorly expressed. Perhaps this is why they didn't become famous. He sometimes takes to mentioning or even listing people's names and place names as though this were evocative or impressive. Part of my problem is that I am rather out of sympathy with the man and his period. An interesting exercise nevertheless. I liked J ...more
Kenneth Hicks
Jun 09, 2013 Kenneth Hicks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading Yeats since college, which is over forty years now. I have returned to the poems many times and my wife and I visited Ireland and went to some of the places mentioned in his poems. I loved Yeats when I first read and studied him and my feelings have only increased over the years as I have revisited poems. Lately, I have memorized a pair of them. I prefer to stick to the poems and not inquire too much about a person's political leanings, but I can understand why others may think ...more
Tats V
Dec 12, 2011 Tats V rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My Favorite:

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats
Aug 16, 2012 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before visiting Ireland last year, I read a book of Irish verse. And there's a lot of it... the Irish write poetry like they drink whiskey. However, one poet stands out beyond the others. Yeats is one of the world's exemplars of modernism. His poems transcended the Irish landscape, history, and folklore that gave birth to them. He was prolific, and there's plenty of early dreck, so I recommend the Selected Poems for the best examples.
Aug 27, 2008 Elizabeth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
Read many of these poems before in different classes. . . taking Irish Lit. this semester so needing to revisit them!

Don't really like poetry so i can't rate this book but I do LOVE the symbolism he incorporates in his poetry(having to do with Irish history. . .)

These are my favorites
The Second Coming
Easter 1916(not in this book but my favorite yeats poem!)
Setpember 1913
No Second Troy
When you are old
The Lake Isle of Innisfree.
Nikolay Dyulgerov
Sep 11, 2014 Nikolay Dyulgerov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One could learn a lot about Irish history and folklore from Yeats' poems. One would also benefit a lot in understanding them if he/she has some knowledge in those areas beforehand.
I personally didn't have, and just occasionally checked various names and places, which I think made some of the poems hard to read and understand.
Grace Turner
"True poetry, Yeats would declare, had to be the speech of the whole man. It was not sufficient that it be the artful expression of daylight opinion and conviction; it had to emerge from a more profound consciousness and be, in the words of his friend Arthur Symons, the voice of 'the mystery which lies about us, out of which we have come and into which we shall return'." - Seamus Heaney
I recognized some of Yeats' religious references and references to Irish and classical myth, but I'm sure I'm missing some, there are many. I loved most of the poems in this collection. I haven't read a whole book of poetry in a long time, but this was amazing.
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  • Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • Selected Poetry
  • Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • North
  • Selected Poetry
  • Poetical Works
  • Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • The Complete Poems
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  • Robert Frost's Poems
  • Selected Poems of Christina Rossetti (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
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  • The Poems of Robert Browning
  • Selected Poetry
William Butler Yeats (pronounced /ˈjeɪts/) was an Irish poet and dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and along with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, se ...more
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“There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.”
“Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.”
More quotes…