Irish poet, playwright, journalist and political activist, William Butler Yeats, was born today 13th June,1865. Here he is captured in charcoal on paper, by the wonderfully real and evocative artist John Singer Sargent. Yeats is wearing a velvet coat and a bow tie, and quite clearly an established, confident young writer. The drawing was commissioned as a frontispiece to the first volume of his ‘Collected Poems’ 1908. He found the portrait ‘flattering’.
With such a likeness as this, it feels as if he might walk into the room any minute and recite his words to eager listeners. Every breath of work, from the Irish fairy folklore: ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’ to love: O Do Not Love Too Long’ to history: ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ to old age: ‘Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad’…captures a different side to Yeats.
There is always a surprising new line, verse or poem to discover, whatever the context of our moods…
“I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”