Literary Birthday – 13 June – William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats was born 13 June 1865, and died 28 January 1939.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


  1. Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
  2. Literature is always personal, always one man’s vision of the world, one man’s experience, and it can only be popular when men are ready to welcome the visions of others.
  3. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
  4. People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.
  5. Man can embody truth but he cannot know it.
  6. When you are old and grey and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.
  7. Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.
  8. The creations of a great writer are little more than the moods and passions of his own heart, given surnames and Christian names, and sent to walk the earth.
  9. In dreams begin responsibilities.

William Butler Yeats was an Irish Poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. He was one of the most significant modern poets. He wrote his greatest works after he was 50. He wrote The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats.

Source for Image: Alice Boughton, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Amanda Patterson

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 13th June 2013