WB Yeats quotes

W B Yeats was one of the leading lights behind the Irish literary renaissance at the end of the 19th century. He helped to revive interest in Irish myths and legends, which became a source of material for him and numerous other young writers.

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The literary revival wasn’t a political movement but it played a major part in encouraging a distinctly Irish identity after hundreds of years of cultural domination by Britain.

Yeats’ quotes cover a wide range of topics from Celtic mythology to political commentary and reflections on life and philosophy. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature and along with Seamus Heaney, is regarded as one of Ireland’s greatest ever poets.

WB Yeats quote. Being Irish he had an abiding sense of tragedy. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven was voted Ireland’s second most popular poem in a poll of Irish Times’ readers. The most popular was another Yeats’ classic, The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

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

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven WB Yeats

See the whole poem here, includes a video of Anthony Hopkins beautiful rendition of He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

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The worst thing about some men is that when they are not drunk they are sober.
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I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love.
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When You Are Old is a bitter sweet poem written by W B Yeats for the actress Maud Gonne. Gonne was one of the great beauties of 19th century Ireland. Yeats fell madly in love with her and although she was happy to be his friend, she rejected his offer of marriage several times.
Read the whole poem here
w-William_Butler_Yeats-When-you-are-old-600 Image copyright Ireland Calling

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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.

Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Celtic Tree Pendants

For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
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The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
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Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
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The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W B Yeats was voted Ireland’s most popular poem by readers of the Irish Times Newspaper in 1999. He was only 23 years old when he wrote this.

Read and hear Yeats, himself, reading The Lake Isle of Innisfree.
WB Yeats quote. Image copyright Ireland Calling* * *
Eyes spiritualised by death can judge,
I cannot, but I am not content.
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O cloud-pale eyelids, dream-dimmed eyes
The poets labouring all their days
To build a perfect beauty in rhyme
Are overthrown by a woman’s gaze.
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Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.

Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling
The Wild Swans at Coole by W B Yeats is about Yeats looking back at his life and the opportunities that passed. It was voted Ireland’s eleventh favourite poem.
Read the whole poem here.
WB Yeats quote. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.
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In dreams begin responsibilities.
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There is another world, but it is in this one.
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WB Yeats quote. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.
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Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.
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A terrible beauty is born.
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WB Yeats quote. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Quotes Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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