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Yeats, William Butler – “Poems of William Butler Yeats, The” – [Spoken Arts, Inc.]


An icon of world literature and Irish nationalism, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was among the greatest of the Symbolist poets and is sometimes called ‘The Last Romantic’ for his verses’ rejection of the modern world and materialism. Yeats’ Irishness was a funny case as he was in fact born part of the Anglo-Protestant middle class, but he was driven to deep fascination with his homeland because he felt that certain intellectual developments of the 1800s had made Christianity obsolete as a value system for true believers in the spiritual. Yeats experimented with different occult philosophies as well as different literary techniques and political movements during his lifetime.

You can hear him reading his own poems and essays on A1-A4. A2-A3 are just poetry. A4 is part of an amusingly catty essay on the Modernist movement. A1 has a lecture and two poems. Yeats has a great voice, decadent and rich; my mum calls it “plummy.” The other readers on this record are actress Siobhan (“SHUH-VAWN”) McKenna and actor Michael MacLiammoir (“MEE-HAWL MACK LEE-AH-MORE”). MacLiammoir was a famously gay “Gaelic” actor who turned out to actually be an Englishman from London, i.e. basically an imposter, or an early example of transracialism? The B-side is a single long track of Mac Liammoir reading a long selection of poems.

Yeats leaves nearly every other 20th century poet in the dust. Beautiful words, read VERY dramatically, dealing with love, death, illusion, mysticism and, of course, lovely Ireland.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on September 5, 2017 at 7:25 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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