William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an outstanding poet of the twentieth century, though some of his poems, popular as well as critically acclaimed, were written in the late nineteenth century in the tradition of romantic poetry. An important theme in his poetry is Ireland—its history, folk legends, contemporary political situation. The occult was another major theme in his poetry. Later, Yeats developed a genre that came to be known as the Celtic Twilight poetry; and then on to the mature phase in which the public voice was not too different from the private. The range of Yeats’s poetry is remarkable, encompassing idealistic romanticism as well as physical sensuality, political themes as well as the spirit of free inquiry, brief, compressed expression as well as long meditative poems.
The poems in this book represent the phases of the development of Yeats’s poetic genius. Meant mainly for students of English literature in universities, the poems are annotated in detail, and their literary aspects critically analysed and evaluated. The Introduction to Yeats’s Poetry endeavours to analyse Yeats’s work from the thematic and stylistic perspectives, besides studying it in the context of the poet’s ideas and the historical background. Painstaking research has gone into the creation of the book. It is necessary, at this juncture, to express grateful acknowledgement to various biographers of Yeats and critics of Yeats’s poetry, without reference to which, this book may not have been possible.
Readers are requested to respond with their views and suggestions, so that the book may be further improved for the next edition.