Monday, June 13, 2016

Yeats and A Drunken Man's Praise Of Sobriety

Sobriety that cuts like a knife.

Come swish around, my pretty punk,
And keep me dancing still
That I may stay a sober man
Although I drink my fill.

Sobriety is a jewel
That I do much adore;
And therefore keep me dancing
Though drunkards lie and snore.
O mind your feet, O mind your feet,
Keep dancing like a wave,
And under every dancer
A dead man in his grave.
No ups and downs, my pretty,
A mermaid, not a punk;
A drunkard is a dead man,
And all dead men are drunk.


— W.B. Yeats


Born on this day in 1865, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) is considered one of the best poets of the 20th century. A native of Dublin, Ireland, W.B. Yeats was one of the co-founders of what came to be known as the Tragic Generation. Comprised of a dozen London-based poets the poets of the Tragic Generation sought to create art that documented the mood of Victorian London. Also known as the Rhymers' Club the collective would publish two anthologies of poetry in quick order — first in 1892 and again two years later.

A fervent Irish nationalist, Yeats also had a strong interest in mysticism — an interest that appears throughout his writings. In 1923 Yeats was awarded, "for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation" the Nobel Prize in Literature. The recognition of the Nobel also brought Yeats financial security for the first time in his writing career and some of his best works were produced after his win including The Tower in 1928. A Drunken Man's Praise of Sobriety is from New Poems published in 1938.