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The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,785 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
Best known for his poetry, William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) was also a dedicated exponent of Irish folklore. Yeats took a particular interest in the tales' mythic and magical roots. The Celtic Twilight ventures into the eerie and puckish world of fairies, ghosts, and spirits. "This handful of dreams," as the author referred to it, first appeared in 1893, and its title refe ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published September 7th 2011 by Dover Publications (first published January 1st 1893)
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Sep 16, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it
William Butler Yeats.

When I read this name I think of lyric Irish poetry and a Nobel prize.

Yeats was also a discerning student of Irish fantasy. The emerald isle is, to many, synonymous with legends of faeries and folk tales of the unseen world. In 1893 Yeats published Celtic Twilight, a collection of essays, sketches, and anecdotes all with imagery and language reminiscent of Ireland’s connections to a mystical past.

“Folk art is, indeed, the oldest of the aristocracies of thought, and because
In his youth Yeats was a member of the Golden Dawn, an occult society; he wrote this book during that time, and it's widely seen as a manifesto about his belief in faeries and magic and such. And it is that - but it's not what you think. When he says
"Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet." (p. 4)
he's saying that he believes in magic, yes, but hi
Sep 01, 2009 Tifany rated it it was amazing
A definite must-read for anyone interested in fairy tales, especially the Irish sort, as I've never found anything better. Yeats, of course, should be read for his own sake, anyway, and if you want more Yeats, go for MYTHOLOGIES, the version that includes both the Celtic Twilight and Yeats' own retellings, in prose, of Irish epic stories, as well as his own original tales. There's another Yeats collection of traditional tales--Irish Folk and Fairy Stories--that also includes the Celtic Twilight, ...more
Aug 03, 2007 Rodney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
You can have your cones and interpenetrating gyres; for me, the unguarded, soppy Romanticism of The Celtic Twilight, based on the diaries the young Yeats kept as he tromped through Irish village life, is the best guide to the obsessions and occult yearnings that animate his poetry, early & late. The anecdotes and rambling asides capture the poet in his native habitat, head in the clouds and feet in the bog of an Ireland that never quite was, but that he needed to shake off the bluff rational ...more
Jan 13, 2014 Emma marked it as to-read
Shelves: research-faeries
Available to read legally and free on Project Gutenberg:
Elena T.
Nel corso dei lunghi soggiorni presso la dimora del nonno, nella contea di Sligo dell'Irlanda occidentale, il piccolo Yeats ascolta le storie misteriose, le ballate e le fiabe legate alle gesta degli abitanti del regno fatato e a noi le ripropone in questa raccolta giovanile edita 1893.

Non sono un'appassionata di micro racconti, poiché con fatica mi affeziono alle pagine, ma il lettore percepisce tra le parole le vibrazioni di quell'amore per il folklore irlandese che l'autore prova e lega ad un
Yeats compiled these stories from various Irish hillbillies in the 1890s. I am a lover of all things Celtic as well as a lover of folklore, local legends, ghost stories, faerie lore, etc, but surprisingly I just didn't get sucked into this book like I thought I would.
Melissa H.S.
Oct 25, 2016 Melissa H.S. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A wonderful little book, full of colorful, strange, eerie, and fantastic stories gathered from local folks at around the turn of the century in Ireland. It's these wonderful folk tales that keep culture alive, and provide important links to truly knowing the histories of people, of places and of our link with the land and with each other.
And for you faerie folk lovers, this book is full of the stories of actual (if not colorfully enhanced) encounters in Ireland with the local faerie people.
Eleanor Toland
A whistling seal sank a ship the other day.

The Celtic Twilight is not a traditional volume of artfully retold folk-tales, nor a dictionary of fairies in the style of Katharine Mary Briggs. Yeats's book is a sociological and theistic study of the inhabitants of Ireland, mortal and otherwise: the angels, "children of the day", ghosts and demons, "children of the darkness", and most of all, the fairies, faeries, fae or sidhe, the "children of the twilight", those liminal, endlessly equivocal inhabi
Oct 02, 2016 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An immensely enjoyable collection of stories and tales from Irish mythology.
Judy Croome
Aug 27, 2012 Judy Croome rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: spiritual seekers, mystics,
In THE CELTIC TWILIGHT Yeats, the spiritual mystic and poet, is in ascendance over the Nobel prize winning playwright. He gathers a delightful assortment of old Irish Folktales dealing with the Faerie, and the world beyond the veil of understanding. The stories are told with a casual acceptance of the existence of spiritual truths beyond our rational knowledge, tinged with embarrassment at that acceptance.

Underpinning the beautiful, lyrical writing, lies the melancholy of a gentle race, a mysti
Dec 29, 2014 Risa rated it liked it
"Celtic" and "twilight" -- two such pretty words; and when I found them together in a title by W.B. Yeats I simply had to give it a try. When I began reading The Celtic Twilight I was expecting a collection of faerie tales. It proved to be a collection, alright, but it was more a book of articles or scribbles jotted down as and when Yeats got a hold of a story. These stories were mostly reports on what faerie legends and experiences he had gathered from Irish peasants, for the most part. One get ...more
Alex Andrasik
Dec 20, 2013 Alex Andrasik rated it really liked it
Dead brothers springing to life from a witch's green stone; towering Celtic queens visiting the kitchens of humble goodwives; blind singers accessing the height of human expression. This is the timbre of the Irish folktales collected here by the celebrated poet W.B. Yeats.

This book was not what I expected it to be, but that didn't turn out to be a problem. Less poetic history of the decline of Celtic civilization and more rambling fireside reminiscence of all the folklore Yeats picked up while g
Sep 15, 2012 Byurakn rated it liked it
A must read for those who are interested in Irish folklore!

And a quote from the end:
In a society that has cast out imaginative tradition, only a few
people--three or four thousand out of millions--favoured by their own
characters and by happy circumstance, and only then after much labour,
have understanding of imaginative things, and yet "the imagination is
the man himself." The churches in the Middle Age won all the arts into
their service because men understood that when imagination is
Derek Davis
Apr 30, 2011 Derek Davis rated it really liked it
Maybe it really deserves a full five stars, but it could use a little more tightening and underlying coherence -- even if it is one man's idiosyncratic collection of local stories on the faerie people of Ireland. Forget that , though. Yeats' mind walking the ridge between reason and acceptance of the marvelous-unlikely is a wonder to read. He pinpoints the population's strangely accepting outlook on the "other" people of the countryside, who live just beyond visibility and seem to turn up, more ...more
May 13, 2013 Alexandria rated it really liked it
In a small fashion, Yeats acted for Ireland as the Brothers Grimm did for Germany. Some of the tales Yeats collected are bound in this book, along with some footnotes containing Yeats' observations and similar material.

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking into Irish Faerie beliefs, whether religious or not. There is also a fair amount of cultural information, and quite a few sections on ghosts. Because the book is meant to revolve around Faeries, I felt this detracted from the overal
Mar 11, 2015 A.M. rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-own, e-books
“Hope and Memory have one daughter and her name is Art…”
Yeats here recounts stories that were told to him by a people over the years, mostly Irish. He has a go at the Scots for how they treated their fae.
It reads as if it is a published notebook where he has scribbled down whatever story or fable somebody told him, so it is a mishmash of things, some only a paragraph or two long.
One tale is recognizable as Jack and the beanstalk. The giant even hums, the fee-fi-fo-fum song but this can’t be an e
Mar 09, 2015 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: folktales
Celtic Twilight is a meandering collection of tales and anecdotes, many of them dealing with ghosts and faerie folk, but a few of them just odd human interactions that tickled Yeats' imagination. With one or two exceptions, these are not folk tales in the usual sense; they are not narratives with characters, so much as spare accounts of some Irish individuals' encounters with the supernatural. If you are seeking complete stories, as I initially was, you will be disappointed.

However, the the col
Continuing with my plan to read a bunch of Yeats before my trip to Ireland, I finished this lovely collection over the weekend. "I am certain that the water, the water of the seas and of lakes, and of mist and rain, has all but made the Irish after its image." It's this description that makes this collection so fun. There's also commentary on how the Irish fae are mischievous but ultimately generally not truly evil, whereas the Scottish versions are often much more grim and dark. For example, in ...more
Kathy L. Brown
Jul 15, 2011 Kathy L. Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the turn of the 19th century, Yeats and friends collected any and all Irish folktales they could find from the rapidly dwindling rural, Gaeilge-speaking population. Celtic Twilight is part poet's journal, ghostbuster's psychic investigation dossier, and part ethnographer's field notes. Yeats presents a the variety of Good People and shades who inhabit the Other Realms. At times, Yeats convincingly reproduces the narrators' voices, at others, the material inspires his own poetry.
But the under
Anna Rakitianskaia
It was beautiful, especially after reading Yeats' autobiography. He was the kind of man whose life goal lay in chasing faeries, and this particular man happened to be damn good at it. The sidhe saddened him by beauty and stole the joy of ordinary things from him, but where would we get the extraordinary from if there was no-one to reach out for the unreachable? A pure example of first-grade sehnsucht, as old as the roots of the world, ever-insatiable, other-worldly. Weird that it is precisely th ...more
Alexandra Paiva
Sep 16, 2014 Alexandra Paiva rated it it was amazing
"I have desired, like every artist, to create a little world out of the beautiful, pleasant, and significant things of this marred and clumsy world, and to show in a vision something of the face of Ireland to any of my own people who would look where I bid them"

Being a devoted fan of Yeats as a poet, this not-so-small collection of folk tales was the cherry on top of my hibernophile cake. I had big expectations towards it and this tome delivered wonderfully.

Since then i have also acquired Mytho
Charlie Hyde
Jan 28, 2011 Charlie Hyde rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent collection of folklore, but Yeats' presentation is about so much more. This book does an excellent job of deriding the rationalism and skepticism of his day (and ours). The magical universe is an exciting place, and a place in the modern world needs to be carved out for it.

There are overtones of spirituality throughout most of the tales. The best parts are the events that the writer claims he experienced. These stories would fit right into any book on trances, astral project
Aug 03, 2007 Rodney rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
You can have your cones and interpenetrating gyres; for me, the unguarded, soppy Romanticism of The Celtic Twilight, based on the diaries the young Yeats kept as he tromped through Irish village life, is the best guide to the obsessions and occult yearnings that animate his poetry, early & late. The anecdotes and rambling asides capture the poet in his native habitat, head in the clouds and feet in the bog of an Ireland that never quite was, but that he needed to shake off the bluff rational ...more
Aug 03, 2007 Rodney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
You can have your cones and interpenetrating gyres; for me, the unguarded, soppy Romanticism of The Celtic Twilight, based on the diaries the young Yeats kept as he tromped through Irish village life, is the best guide to the obsessions and occult yearnings that animate his poetry, early & late. The anecdotes and rambling asides capture the poet in his native habitat, head in the clouds and feet in the bog of an Ireland that never quite was, but that he needed to shake off the bluff rational ...more
Miriam Joy
I fear this rather ancient and battered copy may be missing its final few pages, since it ends in the middle of a sentence, but I've read enough of it to be able to offer an opinion. It's not quite what I expected -- it's a series of observations and anecdotes, related mostly secondhand, to the extent where it's hard to tell what Yeats is condoning and what he's merely relating. But it's an interesting perspective to have and there are many interesting remarks about the nature of folklore.
Timothy Ferguson
Jan 28, 2015 Timothy Ferguson rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this recording, and so far as it goes, it’s fine. The problem, I suppose is that Yeats was one of the founders of his discipline, and so later people, building on his work, have eclipsed him. It is an interesting read if you are fascinated by folklore, but more modern folklorists have done far better work since.

This review was first posted on book coasters
May 21, 2016 Lizy rated it liked it
For some reason I thought this was going to all be poetry, and I was all set for poetry. and it's not. It's a semi-cohesive book of folk tales from turn of the century Ireland and a couple rambled here and there about various things - like how awful Scottish fairy tales are, for example. It made me want to travel to Ireland, to be sure, but otherwise, ehh. I think there's better sources for Irish myths and legends.

Did I really just give Yeats two stars? Yes, I did, and I am not happy about it. This book reads as if Yeats is simply transcribing conversations, complete with lone trains of thought that ride off into nowhere. It simply was not enjoyable to read. I really wanted to love it, but I could not get past the choppy, sometimes ambiguous writing.
Chris Hall
May 18, 2008 Chris Hall rated it it was amazing
I almost gave this book only 4 stars, but then I remembered the cultural/ historical context in which Yeat's was writing. This truly remarkable collection of oral accounts of the Irish fairy faith is even more remarkable in light of the fact that Yeats wrote this book during the reason-obsessed dawn of the modern age.
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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
More about W.B. Yeats...

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“We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.” 98 likes
“One loses, as one grows older, something of the lightness of one's dreams; one begins to take life up in both hands, and to care more for the fruit than the flower, and that is no great loss perhaps.” 51 likes
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