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The Wild Swans at Coole

By William Butler Yeats & Mint Editions
The Wild Swans at Coole by William Butler Yeats & Mint Editions digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

The Wild Swans at Coole (1919) is a collection of poems by W.B. Yeats. Written while the poet was at the height of his career, The Wild Swans at Coole presents Yeats’ typical concerns—aging, love, and the nature of art—against the backdrop of a decade of war. These poems, written during the First World War and the formative years of the Irish independence movement, reflect the harsh political and social realities of the era while remaining true to the mind of one of Ireland’s greatest artists.

The title poem, a meditative lyric on art, love, and aging, uses the image of wild swans to reflect the fleeting nature of years and worldly beauty. Having watched the swans for nineteen years, the poet wonders how, after so much time, “Their hearts have not grown old,” while “Passion of conquest, wander where they will, / Attend upon them still.” Disturbed that the world will not reflect his inner torment, he wonders what will happen when, one day, he awakes “To find they have flown away?” In “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death,” Yeats reflects on the First World War from the perspective of a serviceman doomed by his own conflicting allegiances: “I know that I shall meet my fate / Somewhere among the clouds above; / Those that I fight I do not hate / Those that I guard I do not love.” Despite this poem’s political theme, Yeats includes another poem in the collection that questions the place of poetry in politics altogether. “On Being Asked for a War Poem” suggests that “A poet keep his mouth shut,” his words being better suited to “A young girl in the indolence of her youth, / Or an old man upon a winter’s night.” The Wild Swans at Coole is a moving portrait of the poet’s anxieties, of his fear of death and aging, of his faint suspicion that poetry, though beautiful, fails to address the issues of the era.

This edition of W.B. Yeats’s The Wild Swans at Coole is a classic of Irish literature reimagined for modern readers.

Since our inception in 2020, Mint Editions has kept sustainability and innovation at the forefront of our mission. Each and every Mint Edition title gets a fresh, professionally typeset manuscript and a dazzling new cover, all while maintaining the integrity of the original book.

With thousands of titles in our collection, we aim to spotlight diverse public domain works to help them find modern audiences. Mint Editions celebrates a breadth of literary works, curated from both canonical and overlooked classics from writers around the globe.

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About William Butler Yeats

W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet. Born in Sandymount, Yeats was raised between Sligo, England, and Dublin by John Butler Yeats, a prominent painter, and Susan Mary Pollexfen, the daughter of a wealthy merchant family. He began writing poetry around the age of seventeen, influenced by the Romantics and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but soon turned to Irish folklore and the mystical writings of William Blake for inspiration. As a young man he joined and founded several occult societies, including the Dublin Hermetic Order and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, participating in séances and rituals as well as acting as a recruiter. While these interests continued throughout Yeats’ life, the poet dedicated much of his middle years to the struggle for Irish independence. In 1904, alongside John Millington Synge, Florence Farr, the Fay brothers, and Annie Horniman, Yeats founded the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, which opened with his play Cathleen ni Houlihan and Lady Gregory’s Spreading the News and remains Ireland’s premier venue for the dramatic arts to this day. Although he was an Irish Nationalist, and despite his work toward establishing a distinctly Irish movement in the arts, Yeats—as is evident in his poem “Easter, 1916”—struggled to identify his idealism with the sectarian violence that emerged with the Easter Rising in 1916. Following the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, however, Yeats was appointed to the role of Senator and served two terms in the position. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923, and continued to write and publish poetry, philosophical and occult writings, and plays until his death in 1939.

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