Monday, July 22, 2013

Victorian Fantasy: William Butler Yeats

This month's meeting of the Victorian Fantasy discussion group looked at three early poems by Irish poet William Butler Yeats: "The Hosting of the Sidhe," "The Stolen Child," and "The Song of Wandering Aengus." All were written in the last decades of the 19th century: 1893, 1886, and circa 1893, respectively.

Much of the discussion focused on Yeat's mining of Irish folklore - tales of faeries, in particular - in his poems, creating an undeniable Irishness about them. Sir JJ Drinkwater (thankfully not invisible to me this time around) observed that Yeats wrote in English rather than Gaelic - perhaps merely a nod to his greater familiarity with the former language, but also perhaps to make a point to the English, who were still occupying Ireland at the time, of the continued existence of Irish culture, including its folklore and literature.

Victoria Literature  Yeats 001
Miss Herndon Bluebird, Miss Ludo Merit, your humble scribe, Mr. Terence Tyromancy

Victoria Literature  Yeats 002
Sir JJ Drinkwater, Miss Ellie Mink

Victoria Literature  Yeats 003
Miss Nadienne, Mr. Hamish Blackbear, Miss Leana Sidhe

Victoria Literature  Yeats 005
Mrs. Cassie Writer-Eldemar and Mr. Oldesoul Eldemar

Victoria Literature  Yeats 006
Dame Kghia Gherardi

Next month's discussion involves William Morris's 1897 novel The Water of the Wondrous Isles, described in Wikipedia as "perhaps the first modern fantasy writer to unite an imaginary world with the element of the supernatural, and thus the precursor of much of present-day fantasy literature." (Wikipedia also says the novel is 340 pages, so I'd better begin now!)

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