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'The Second Coming' and 5 Other Famous Works By W.B. Yeats

By    |   Tuesday, 28 Oct 2014 10:01 PM

"The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats is one of the most famous poems in the Irish Nobel laureate's body of work. Lines from the poem continually seep their way into the pop culture of our times. Songwriters, authors, scriptwriters, comic book creators, and even politicians borrow images and phrases from Yeats to describe their own views of the world.

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Now, 75 years after his death, "The Second Coming" is not the only work of the poet that continues to capture the imagination of our modern world. Here are 7 other famous works by the poet and playwright:

1. "When You Are Old": This poem speaks of an old love and entreats the muse to remember: “one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face.” It is said to refer to his unrequited love for Maud Gonne who refused his offer of marriage several times.

2. "Remorse for Intemperate Speech": Speaking to all of us, the poet laments “my fanatic heart.” As the New York Times Thomas Lynch so eloquently summed up, the poem touches a place in our hearts because it, “confesses and laments that reason and breeding, imagination and good intentions are nonetheless trumped by the contagion of hatred and by the human propensity toward extreme and unquestioning enthusiasm for a cause - whatever cause.”

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3. "The Song of Wandering Aengus":
The poem draws from Irish mythology. Aengus was a god who stayed forever young. Ray Bradbury stole a line from Yeats' "The Song of Wandering Aengus" for the title of his book ”The Golden Apples of the Sun.”

4. "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven": This short and simple verse speaks of love and hope for the future. Its simplicity and depth have made it famous. It was read by Anthony Hopkins in the 1987 movie "84 Charing Cross Road."

5. "Cathleen ni Hoolihan" (1902): Finally, a play. In this one-act drama, young men are encouraged to sacrifice for a woman who is the embodiment of Ireland. When Yeats won the Nobel Prize, this play was noted as, “At once his simplest folk play and his most classically perfect work.” He touches on Ireland's “struggle for liberty” without the hatred.

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"The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats is one of the most famous poems in the Irish Nobel laureate's body of work.
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2014-01-28
Tuesday, 28 Oct 2014 10:01 PM
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