Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests

Saturday, October 7, 2017

“The Stolen Child” by William Butler Yeats (1889, in The Wanderings of Oisin and other Poems)

an Elegant reading, includes scrolling text

William Butler Yeats (1865 To 1939) was the first poet I read.  At age thirteen or so I was captivated by his “Sailing to Byzantium”, it took me to a world far from the mundanity of my childhood.  I have been reading in his poetry on and off for the decades that have passed.  I recently heard a YouTube lecture on Yeats in which he was described as the greatest poet of old age.  I see it now.  Yeats was highly influenced and deeply steeped in Irish history and folk beliefs.  He also as he aged became involved with what most would call occult theories.  Yeats created a mythology out of his life and from that created some of the most sublimely beautiful poetry ever written.  

“The Stolen Child”, reading time under three minutes, is one of his more popular works.  I love it.  In part this is a poem arisen from the famine days in which dead children were described as taken by Fairies.  Sheridan le Fanu has written about this.  Fairies are not pure beings, they are stealing children for their own world.  Images of water abound in the poem, the faery is presenting a powerful temptation to the child.

Is there a poet you return to over and over? 

Do you have a favourite poem by Yeats?

Mel u


Mudpuddle said...

excellent poet: but i don't know him very well... i'm fond of Matthew Arnold: Dover Beach and the ilk... also Edward Lear and Charles Dodgson...

Suko said...


Thanks for posting this poem, and for giving some background information about this work by Yeats. I'd like to read more.

These days, I tend to read contemporary poetry, mostly written by women.