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 goesTo a gray place on a hillIn gray Connemara clothesAt dawn to cast his flies—It’s long since I beganTo call up to the eyesThis wise and simple man.All day I’d looked in the faceWhat I had hoped it would beTo write for my own raceAnd 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 bookWho has won a drunken cheer—The witty man and his jokeAimed at the commonest ear,The clever man who criesThe catch cries of the clown,The beating down of the wiseAnd great Art beaten down.Maybe a twelve-month sinceSuddenly I began,In scorn of this audience,Imagining a man,And his sun-freckled faceAnd gray Connemara cloth,Climbing up to a placeWhere stone is dark with froth,And the down turn of his wristWhen the flies drop in the stream—A man who does not exist,A man who is but a dream;And cried, “Before I am oldI shall have written him onePoem maybe as coldAnd passionate as the dawn.”
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.
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.