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The Fisherman By W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) Irish Poem

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This weeks poem in my top 100 Irish poems list is “The Fisherman” by W.B Yeats. It comes in at number 52 on the top 100. 

This lovely poem “The Fisherman” was written in 1919, enjoy:

Although I can see him still—
The freckled man who goes
To a gray place on a hill
In gray Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies—
It’s long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I’d looked in the face
What I had hoped it would be
To write for my own race
And the reality:
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved—
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer—
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.
 
Maybe a twelve-month since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face
And gray Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark with froth,
And the down turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream—
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, “Before I am old
I shall have written him one
Poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.”
The Fisherman by W.B Yeats
What is the poem The Fisherman by W.B Yeats about?

The poem can be broken into 3 parts; lines 1-8 describe the Fisherman, lines 9-24 candidly state Yeats’ distaste for contemporary society, and lines 29-40 return back to the imaginary ideal of the Fisherman.

The Fisherman by W.B. Yeats depicts the author’s conception of an ideal reader. W.B.Yeats 

For a poem it is so linguistically simple, the syntax is made to work very hard as Yeats composes the 40 line poem of only three sentences, the first comprising only 8 lines, while the second two both use 16. Semi-colons and commas, setting off phrases and clauses, abound, giving the lie to the simplicity of its surface.

Who was William Butler Yeats?

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the most important literary figures of the 20th century. He was born in 1865 and he died in 1939. Throughout his life, he also established the Abbey theatre and served as a public Irish senator for a number of years. William Butler Yeats is well known for being a driving force behind the Irish literary revival. William Butler Yeats poem appears many times in the top 100 Irish poems list.

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