What are some interesting facts about W.B Yeats?

By Sunil Kumar

Here’s a list of some interesting facts about the Irish poet W.B Yeats; who I first read about regarding his interactions with Rabindranath Tagore.

Quote Starts: “Fascinated by the occult and mysticism, he joined the Golden Dawn, a secret society that practiced ritual magic. Sometime later; he joined the research organisation ‘The Ghost Club’ in 1911

While Yeats’ unrequited love for Maud Gonne is famous; somewhat less well-known is that they consummated the affair in 1908 – almost 20 years after first meeting. The relationship did not take off from there. He was nothing if not persistent. After proposing to, and being rejected by, Maud Gonne for the fifth time, he asked her daughter Iseult to marry him, which also did not happen. Shortly after Iseult’s refusal, Yeats, then 52, married 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees in October 1917.

According to the article(source) mentioned below; he may have been in such a rush to get hitched because he believed it was written in the stars. An astrological chart drawn up through the Golden Dawn found October 1917 was the ideal time for Yeats to marry.

Yeats’ introduction to automatic writing began as a sly attempt by Georgie to alleviate his fears.

Automatic writing description: This is said to allow a person to write without conscious thought, acting as medium for the spirit world. Interesting descriptions in various other novels/books

During a grim honeymoon, Georgie convinced her new husband that the following was written through her: “With the bird all is well at heart. Your action was right for both.” Yeats took this as Iseult being well and his having made the right choice. He and Georgie went to on produce thousands of pages of automatic script.

Yeats served in the first Seanad(upper house of the Irish legislature) for six years from 1922. He argued against the ban on divorce, a move he viewed as “grossly oppressive” to the Protestant minority, warning it would “put a wedge in the midst of this nation”. He also spoke out against new censorship laws, and while he promoted Irish-language research, he questioned compulsory Irish.

He played a major role in the Irish cultural revival. He was involved in founding the Abbey Theatre and the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, now the Hugh Lane, and supported the Cuala Press set up by his sisters to produce books of Irish interest.

WB Yeats was the first Irishman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”. A year later his brother Jack added to the family medal haul, winning silver in the arts and culture section of the Olympics for his painting The Liffey Swim.

Yeats described his last years as a second puberty following a Steinach operation at age 69. Perhaps not coincidentally, he had several affairs with younger women but also experienced a late burst of creativity.

The grave of WB Yeats may contain someone else’s body. The poet died in France in 1939 but was exhumed and brought to Drumcliffe, Sligo,in 1948. However, historian Louise Foxcroft, whose granduncle Alfred Hollis was buried in France on the same day as Yeats, has raised concerns that a mix-up meant Hollis’ body was sent to Ireland instead.” – End Quote

Source: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About WB Yeats – Yeats 2015

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