Would you rather arise and go now, slouch towards Bethlehem, or seek to tell the dancer from the dance? Is it the terrible beauty of Easter, 1916, the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart in The Circus Animals’ Desertion or the world more full of weeping from The Stolen Child that is closest to your heart?
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of WB Yeats, one of the 20th century’s greatest poets, with worldwide celebrations. Nationalist, romantic, spiritualist; beacon of the Celtic Twilight, chronicler of everyday life and angry old man; Yeats went through many phases, and left many exemplary poems. In a 1999 poll to find Ireland’s 100 favourite poems of all time, he takes seven places in the top 10 (Heaney and Kavanagh hardly get a look-in), and dominates the list as a whole.
But which of his poems is your favourite? The Guardian is running an open thread. Let them know your choice!
From a new Irish stamp to a public reading by Fiona Shaw, global events in honour of ‘a great public and private poet’ continue. Poet Bernard O’Donoghue noted that Yeats was “a great public and private poet, and is almost unique in that way. There’s that great thing that TS Eliot said about him, that he was somebody without whom the history of his own time could not be understood.” Play your part in history by joining the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society! See the latest news stories from the Guardian.
In Ireland, there will be a new stamp honouring the poet’s 150th birthday, as well as a limited-edition €15 coin, while the team at Yeats 2015 are asking people to record their own version of a Yeats poem in an attempt to create the world’s largest audio archive of his work. President Michael Higgins has contributed a reading of A Prayer for My Daughter, the family of Seamus Heaney have given permission for his recording of What Then? to be used, and the former president of Ireland Mary Robinson is reading The Song of Wandering Aengus.
Fiona Shaw, reads the Nobel laureate’s poetry at the Poet in the City event in London on 29 April, said: “Yeats made sense of the world between imagination, childhood and history. The poems became my learning ground of a language that had nothing to do with school or adulthood – a private, fierce, beautiful language of rhymes and half-rhymes, the romance, failure, fear and celebration. He was a great poet.”