When W.B. Yeats became the first Irish person to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923, the Swedish Academy was crediting him with giving expression to ‘the spirit of a whole nation’. The prize established Yeats as the unofficial poet laureate of a country that had, in his own words, been ‘transformed utterly’ during the preceding decade.
From the Celtic Twilight of the 1890s to his death in 1939, Yeats’s writings offer a unique window through which to view the changing Ireland of his time. In PILGRIM SOUL, Daniel Mulhall’s highly accessible and illuminating guide to Yeats, the poet’s special role in Irish affairs is examined closely.
Each chapter opens with a major Yeats poem through which Mulhall examines the historical events that inspired it. Along the way, he explores Yeats’s ‘indomitable’ Irishness, the roots of his periodic disenchantment with Ireland and the conservative politics of his later years as well as the way Yeats’s lifelong encounter with Irish affairs helped reshape his poetry.
Throughout his life, Yeats produced compelling images of his homeland for readers in Ireland and around the world. As a personal journey through Yeats’s poetry and his life, PILGRIM SOUL, mirrors Daniel Mulhall’s own four decades as an ambassador for Ireland, its people and its culture.
|6 Nov 2023