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Irish Literary Revival

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Yeats, The Cutting of an Agate. Yeats, William Butler. The Cutting of an Agate. First American Edition. New York, The Macmillan Company, 1912. 14 cm x 19.5 cm. VIII, 255 pages. Original hardcover. Very good condition with minor signs of external wear. Scuffing on corners and spine and darkening on spine. Clean inside with solid binding.

Includes the following: Thoughts on Lady Gregory’s Translations / I. Cuchulain and his Cycle / II. Fion and his Cycle / Preface to the First Edition of the Well of the Saints / Discoveries / Prophet, Priest and King / Personality and the Intellectual Essences / The Musician and the Orator / A Guitar Player / The Tree of Life / The Praise of Old Wives’ Tales / The Play of Modern Manners / Has the Drama of Contemporary Life a Root of its Own? / Why the Blind Man in Ancient Times was made a Poet / Concerning Saints and Artists / The Two Kinds of Asceticism / A Tower on the Apennines / The Thinking of the Body / The Holy Places / Poetry and Traditions / Preface to the First Edition of John M. Synge’s Poems and Translations / The Tragic Theatre / John Shawe-Taylor / Edmund Spenser etc.

″William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, he helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and others.

He was born in Sandymount, Ireland and educated there and in London. He spent childhood holidays in County Sligo and studied poetry from an early age when he became fascinated by Irish legends and the occult. These topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the 20th century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and its slow-paced and lyrical poems display Yeats’s debts to Edmund Spenser, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the poets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. From 1900, his poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.” (Wikipedia)

″In The Cutting of an Agate W.B. Yeats starts with thoughts on Lady Gregory’s translations and tells of his experiences: He writes about meeting fellow student JM Synge for the first time, putting on a play in a small town in the west of Ireland, and how to make his work appreciated by his audience. He then writes at length about Synge and others of his time. He describes his observations of people he encounters. He discusses the merits of modern plays, and how a character in an epic novel will stay with us longer than one in a play. He describes the first time he took Indian hemp and how the high changed the way he saw things at the time. He finishes with several chapters dedicated to J.M. Spencer. He is a fellow poet, specific parts of whose poetry Yeats liked to carry around with him. “I have put into this book only those passages from Spenser that I want to remember and carry about with me. I have not tried to select what people call characteristic passages, for that is, I think, the way to make a dull book… I have taken out of The Shepheards Calender only those parts which are about love or about old age, and I have taken out of the Faerie Queene passages about shepherds and lovers, and fauns and satyrs, and a few allegorical processions.” “There is an old saying that God is a circle whose centre is everywhere. If that is true, the saint goes to the centre, the poet and artist to the ring where everything comes round again. The poet must not seek for what is still and fixed, for that has no life for him… Yet perhaps he must endure the impermanent a little, for these things return, but not wholly, for no two faces are alike, and, it may be, had we more learned eyes, no two flowers. Is it that all things are made by the struggle of the individual and the world, of the unchanging and the returning, and that the saint and the poet are over all, and that the poet has made his home in the Serpent’s mouth?” (Amazon)

Keywords: 20th century, 20th Century Literature, Irish Literary Revival, Irish Literature, Irish Poetry, Lady Gregory

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