The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1889) Background

The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1889) Background

In 1839, the first collection of poems by W. B. Yeats was published, taking its name from the last epic-style poem that Yeats ever wrote. The collection also included a number of poems that would be republished as one longer poem that Yeats entitled Crossways. This collection contains seventeen poems in all, including the title poem, and other well-known Yeats verses such as Down by the Sailey Gardens, The Stolen Child, and The Song of the Sad Shepherd.

William Butler Yeats was not just one of Ireland's foremost poets; he was both a leading literary figure in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and first decade of the twentieth century. As well as his writing, Yeats was also known for his political involvement which saw him serve two terms as a Senator for the Irish Free State which was established by a treaty that ostensibly ended the war between the British government and the Irish Liberation Army, although the war never really ended and became increasingly bloody as the twentieth century progressed.

Yeats loved poetry from an early age and was fascinated by the occult, and also by Irish legends, both of which weave their way thematically through many of the poems in this collection. He was a Symbolist poet, using allusive imagery and symbolic structure to suggest both specific meanings and abstract thoughts.

In December 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature which pleased him not only because it recognized him as a leading literary figure but also because it shone a spotlight on Irish literature and literary heritage. Yeats passed away January 1939 and still considered today to be Ireland's finest poet.

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