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William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats

Christopher Griffin


This class is now fully enrolled. To reserve a spot on the waitlist please email


Four Fridays:
January 25, February 1, 8 and 15, 1:00-3:00 pm

Price: $100 ($90 members)

The Yeats Reader: A Portable Compendium of Poetry, Drama, and Prose (Revised Edition), ed. Richard J. Finneran


REFUND POLICY: Please note that we can only issue class refunds within seven (7) days of the first class session.

William Butler Yeats is a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and perhaps the greatest poet of the 20th century. His poems are among the most memorable in the English language. His words have become part of our language, as in “A terrible beauty is born” and “Things fall apart.” In these three sessions we will sample not just some of W. B. Yeats’ famous poems but also some of his plays and prose. With Lady Gregory, Yeats founded the Irish National Theatre and provided a space and institution at the Abbey where playwrights like themselves could celebrate and criticize the human condition. Yeats was a poet of the theatre. Although rooted in his native culture and a senator in the first Irish government, Yeats claimed that “art is tribeless, nationless, a blossom gathered in No Man’s Land.” As Yeats said, “Out of our quarrels with others we make rhetoric; out of our quarrels with ourselves we make poetry.” And memorable poetry he did indeed create, as in “The Wild Swans at Coole”:
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky. . . .


Christopher Griffin is from the “real Yeats country” in south Galway near Yeats’ Thoor Ballylee. His grandfather, Christy Griffin, sometimes decorated Coole House and brought Lady Gregory news of “the Troubles” 1919-23, so, like Yeats, he is quoted in her journals. Christopher studied Irish literature in English at Trinity College and University College in Dublin, and presented a paper at the Yeats Summer School in Sligo. He has taught courses in Irish literature at George Washington University for over six years and at Politics and Prose for about 20 years. He was a study leader on two Smithsonian Journeys to Ireland.






Promotional Period: 
Jan 25 2013 - Feb 15 2013
ISBN-13: 9780743227988
Availability: Not currently shipping from publisher – Subject to future availability
Published: Scribner, 8/2002