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Yeats Quotes

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"In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid." - William Butler Yeats

"Yeats was 18th-century oratory, almost." - Seamus Heaney

"I didn't want to be like Yeats; I wanted to be Yeats." - John Berryman

"With him in defense, we could play Arthur Askey in goal. (after signing Ron Yeats)" - Bill Shankly

"Under bare Ben Bulben's head In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid." - William Butler Yeats

"My two great heroes are W. B. Yeats and Fernando Garcia Lorca." - Leonard Cohen

"Yeats, you need ten years in the library, but I have need of ten years in the wilderness." - Lionel Johnson

"Earth, receive an honored guest; William Yeats is laid to rest. Let the Irish vessel lie Emptied of its poetry." - W H Auden

"Earth, receive an honored guest: William Yeats is laid to rest. Let the Irish vessel lie Emptied of its poetry." - W H Auden

"[To William Butler Yeats:] Poets should never marry. The world should thank me for not marrying you." - Maud Gonne

"Earth receive an honoured guest: William Yeats is laid to rest. Let the Irish vessel lie Emptied of its poetry." - W H Auden

"When I was starting to write, the great influence was T.S. Eliot and after that William Butler Yeats." - Howard Nemerov

"The kind of poet who founds and reconstitutes values is somebody like Yeats or Whitman - these are public value-founders." - Seamus Heaney

"I carry Yeats with me wherever I go. He's my constant companion. I always can find some comfort in Yeats no matter what the situation is. Months and months and months go by and I know I need to switch to Shelley or somebody else, but right now Yeats is enough for me." - Linda Hamilton

"Yeats was the greatest poet of our times . . . certainly the greatest in this language, and so far as I am able to judge, in any language." - T S Eliot

"It's just like Yeats said. In dreams begin responsibilities. Flip this around and you could say that where there's no power to imagine, no responsibility can arise." - Haruki Murakami

"When Yeats said the center cannot hold, he was talking for himself, but it was true for the rest of us as well." - Jean-Luc Godard

"Sharing a bed and a future was child's play compared to sharing my copy of The Complete Poems of W. B. Yeats." - Anne Fadiman

"I take this cadence from a man named Yeats: I take it and I give it back again: For other tunes and other wanton beats Have tossed my heart and fiddled through my brain. Yes, I was dancing mad, and how That came to be the bears and Yeats would know." - Theodore Roethke

"As a young man, Yeats spoke to me in a way I could understand. Shakespeare I couldn't understand, but Yeats I could. It was his subject matter and also I really admired the way he put his personal life on the line." - Leonard Cohen

"The death of every art form seems imminent at least once in every century; but while the very funeral arrangements go forward, some child is born who is Michelangelo, Picasso, Yeats." - Reynolds Price

"I am talking about poetry. It's like that line from [John] Yeats: I go back to "where all the ladders start/ In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart."" - Robert Hass

"Is it not certain that the Creator yawns in earthquake and thunder and other popular displays, but toils in rounding the delicate spiral of a shell? -Yeats, The Trembling of the Veil" - William Butler Yeats

"I remember Francis Bacon would say that he felt he was giving art what he thought it previously lacked. With me, it's what Yeats called the fascination with what's difficult. I'm only trying to do what I can't do." - Lucian Freud

"I think that with Bob Dylan around, we're living in an era where we have Whitman presenting new work, we have Dickens presenting new work, we have Yeats and Shakespeare presenting new work. It's that level." - Benmont Tench

"I have a bit of a love affair with fairy tales and some of the ideas of Irish mythology, like Oscar Wilde and W.B. Yeats, who captured a lot of that very beautifully." - Hozier

"Blake has always been a favorite, the lyrics, not so much the prophetic books, but I suppose Yeats influenced me more as a young poet, and the American, Robert Frost." - Anne Stevenson

"I read as much poetry as time allows and circumstance dictates: No heartache can pass without a little Dorothy Parker, no thunderstorm without W. H. Auden, no sleepless night without W. B. Yeats." - J Courtney Sullivan

"The sad fact is that I love Dickens and Donne and Keats and Eliot and Forster and Conrad and Fitzgerald and Kafka and Wilde and Orwell and Waugh and Marvell and Greene and Sterne and Shakespeare and Webster and Swift and Yeats and Joyce and Hardy, really, really love them. It's just that they don't love me back." - David Nicholls

"There are those who regard this history of past strife and exile as better forgotten. But, to use the phrase of Yeats, let us not casually reduce "that great past to a trouble of fools." For we need not feel the bitterness of the past to discover its meaning for the present and the future." - John F Kennedy

"The sad fact is that I love Dickens and Donne and Keats and Eliot and Forster and Conrad and Fitzgerald and Kafka and Wilde and Orwell and Waugh and Marvell and Greene and Sterne and Shakespeare and Webster and Swift and Yeats and Joyce and Hardy, really, really love them. It's just that they do' love me back." - David Nicholls

"I wanted to see who this Yeats person was, and I said to my mother, 'I want a book by this person.' And she bought it for me, and a lot of it was over my head, but I had it." - Patti Smith

"[William Butler] Yeats has the phrase Hodos Chameliontos, chameleon-like, in that you don't know where the beginning or the middle or the end is, so it's an unrelieved hallucination, because you don't know where you're coming in and you don't know where you're going out. It ends, you're going into the hallucination, or maybe coming out of it, I don't know." - Allen Ginsberg

"Most of my influences from outside the commerical strange fiction genre came in with university, discovering James Joyce and Wallace Stevens, Blake and Yeats, Pinter and Borges. And meanwhile within those genres I was discovering Gibson and Shepard, Jeter and Powers, Lovecraft and Peake." - Hal Duncan

"I think the question for him is, how is a faithless person to cope with life. This is where he believes he can find something upon which to establish a literary career. You know, don't you, how often he talks of Yeats? This goes way back, to when he was very young." - Kenzaburo Oe

"There are those who regard this history of past strife and exile as better forgotten. But, to use the phrase of Yeats, let us not casually reduce that great past to a trouble of fools. For we need not feel the bitterness of the past to discover its meaning for the present and the future." - John F Kennedy

"Alister McGrath has now written two books with my name in the title. The poet W. B. Yeats, when asked to say something about bad poets who made a living by parasitizing him, wrote the splendid line, 'was there ever dog that praised his fleas?" - Richard Dawkins

"There is a part of me that will forever want to be walking under autumn leaves, carrying a briefcase containing the works of Shakespeare and Yeats and a portable chess set. I will pass an old tree under which once on a summer night I lay on the grass with a fragrant young woman and we quoted e.e. cummings back and forth." - Roger Ebert

"W. B. Yeats has created, if not a new world, a new star. He is not a reporter of life as it is, to the extent that Shakespeare or Browning is. One is not quite certain that his kingdom is of the green earth. He is like a man who has seen the earth not directly but in a crystal." - Robert Wilson Lynd

"I think that great poetry is the most interesting and complex use of the poet's language at that point in history, and so it's even more exciting when you read a poet like Yeats, almost 100 years old now, and you think that perhaps no one can really top that." - Diane Wakoski

"On a summer night it can be lovely to sit around outside with friends after dinner and, yes, read poetry to each other. Keats and Yeats will never let you down, but it's differently exciting to read the work of poets who are still walking around out there." - Michael Cunningham

"To you, W. B. Yeats, good praiser, wholesome dispraiser, heavy-handed judge, open-handed helper of us all, I offer a play of my plays for every night of the week, because you like them, and because you have taught me my trade." - Lady Gregory

"But I liked Yeats! That wild Irishman. I really loved his love of language, his flow. His chaotic ideas seemed to me just the right thing for a poet. Passion! He was always on the right side. He may be wrongheaded, but his heart was always on the right side. He wrote beautiful poetry." - Chinua Achebe

"I liked Yeats! That wild Irishman. I really loved his love of language, his flow. His chaotic ideas seemed to me just the right thing for a poet. Passion! He was always on the right side. He may be wrongheaded, but his heart was always on the right side. He wrote beautiful poetry." - Chinua Achebe

"I do think culture is an argument, and that was part of the way I was brought up. People at a social occasion in Ireland will start shouting and arguing. When the Yeats family lived in Bedford Park, they had to go round to the neighbours to say, 'You might think we are fighting, but this is the way we talk to each other.'" - Tom Paulin

"... woman is frequently praised as the more "creative" sex. She does not need to make poems, it is argued; she has no drive to make poems, because she is privileged to make babies. A pregnancy is as fulfilling as, say, Yeats' Sailing to Byzantium.... To call a child a poem may be a pretty metaphor, but it is a slur on the labor of art." - Cynthia Ozick

"And I love Jane Austen's use of language too-the way she takes her time to develop a phrase and gives it room to grow, so that these clever, complex statements form slowly and then bloom in my mind. Beethoven does the same thing with his cadence and phrasing and structure. It's a fact: Jane Austen is musical. And so's Yeats. And Wordsworth. All the great writers are musical." - Andrew Clements

"The best people in a dying culture are the outcasts considered crazy by the leaders; the ones most disillusioned with their own culture. In Yeats' phrase, "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." Intense emotional attachment to any value, any virtue, any set of "shoulds" is a disease, a mental illness, a condition of self-murder and cultural assassination." - Brad Blanton

"Insofar as I think about postmodernism at all, and it doesn't exactly keep me awake at nights, I think of it as something that happens to one, not a style one affects. We're postmoderns because we're not modernists. The modernist writers Pound, Eliot, Joyce, Stevens, Yeats, Woolf, Williams spoke with a kind of vatic authority: they were really the last of the Romantics, for whom authorship itself was like being a solitary prophet in the wasteland." - Jonathan Raban

"I always thought old age would be a writer's best chance. Whenever I read the late work of Goethe or W. B. Yeats I had the impertinence to identify with it. Now, my memory's gone, all the old fluency's disappeared. I do' write a single sentence without saying to myself, "It's a lie!" So I know I was right. It's the best chance I"ve ever had." - Samuel Beckett

"I always thought old age would be a writer's best chance. Whenever I read the late work of Goethe or W. B. Yeats I had the impertinence to identify with it. Now, my memory's gone, all the old fluency's disappeared. I don't write a single sentence without saying to myself, 'It's a lie!' So I know I was right. It's the best chance I've ever had." - Samuel Beckett

"Insofar as I think about postmodernism at all, and it doesn't exactly keep me awake at nights, I think of it as something that happens to one, not a style one affects. We're postmoderns because we're not modernists. The modernist writers?Pound, Eliot, Joyce, Stevens, Yeats, Woolf, Williams?spoke with a kind of vatic authority: they were really the last of the Romantics, for whom authorship itself was like being a solitary prophet in the wasteland." - Jonathan Raban

"Anyone who has read Yeats's wonderful Autobiography will remember his Sligo shabby, shadowed, half country and half sea, full of confused romance, superstition, poverty, eccentricity, unrecognized anachronism, passion and ignorance and the little boy's misery. Yeats was treated well but was bitterly unhappy; he prayed that he would die, and used often to say to himself: "When you are grown up, never talk as grown-up people do of the happiness of childhood." - Randall Jarrell

"To be the father of growing daughters is to understand something of what Yeats evokes with his imperishable phrase 'terrible beauty.' Nothing can make one so happily exhilarated or so frightened: it's a solid lesson in the limitations of self to realize that your heart is running around inside someone else's body. It also makes me quite astonishingly calm at the thought of death: I know whom I would die to protect and I also understand that nobody but a lugubrious serf can possibly wish for a father who never goes away." - Christopher Hitchens

"I think the whole emphasis in England, in universities, on practical criticism (but not that so much as on historical criticism, knowing what period a line comes from) this is almost paralysing. In America, in University, we read - what? - T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Yeats, that is where we began. Shakespeare flaunted in the background. I'm not sure I agree with this, but I think that' for the young poet, the writing poet, it is not quite so frightening to go to university in America as it is in England, for these reasons." - Sylvia Plath

"In the 1970s, for example, I found myself learning to relish the poetry of Andrew Marvell and Sir Thomas Wyatt, and getting a handle on poetry of plainer speech than I had dwelt with heretofore. Which led me into a new appreciation of middle [William Butler ] Yeats, of the short three-beat line and forward-driving syntax, and that paid in, in turn, to a poem like Casualty in Field Work. The traffic, however, was usually the other way. My teaching was animated by what I was reading and being excited by as a poet." - Adam Kirsch

"One day while studying a Yeats poem I decided to write poetry the rest of my life. I recognized that a single short poem has room for history, music, psychology, religious thought, mood, occult speculation, character, and events of one's own life. I still feel surprised that such various substances can find shelter and nourishment in a poem. A poem in fact may be a sort of nourishing liquid, such as one uses to keep an amoeba alive. If prepared right, a poem can keep an image or a thought or insights on history or the psyche alive for years, as well as our desires and airy impulses." - Robert Bly



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