William Butler Yeats
- In a fit of facetiousness, I chose as my sister's thesis title a line from Yeats' dirge, September 1913 (Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, it's with O'Leary in the grave). As it happens, Yeats was an alumni of the same institution (then The Metropolitan School of Art, now the National College of Art and Design).
- When I was a kid I had a map of Ireland complete with portraits of her literary heroes. Most of them were ancient and beardy looking (I had not, at that stage, developed my preference for hirsute men) but Wilde and Yeats looked young and presentable, so I used imagine them as my boyfriends (there were no teen magazines or pop idols in our house).
- His brother Jack was an expressionist painter, and a very fine one at that. Were I the boys' mother, he'd definitely have been my favourite.
- Apparently William was big into mysticism and the occult. WH Auden criticized this aspect of Yeats' work as the "deplorable spectacle of a grown man occupied with the mumbo-jumbo of magic and the nonsense of India." I copy and pasted that from Wikipedia, so it must be true.
- All of his Irish mysticism stuff bores and annoys me in equal measure - I find it pretentious and very difficult to identify with. I imagine he would probably find me pretentious and very difficult to identify with.
- He is somewhat of a posterboy for unrequited love - having followed Maud Gonne around like a lost puppy for 19 years he finally bedded her in 1908. Whatever he did that night, he made quite an impression: By January 1909, Gonne was sending Yeats letters praising the advantage given to artists who abstain from sex. She must have made a more favourable impression on him, however, as he proposed again to her (proposal #346, I think) and also proposed to her pubescent daughter. He was still rattling on about their one-nighter in A Man Young And Old almost 20 years later (which must have pleased his young wife George no end).