A Poet to His Beloved: The Early Love Poems of William Butler Yeats

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As a young man, William Butler Yeats was once deeply suffering from the idea of romantic love, or, as he known as it, “the old high way of love.” Characteristically, much of his early poetry that which was once written prior to 1910, is poetry that belongs to courtship.

When Yeats was once twenty-three years old, he met and fell in love with the beautiful Irish nationalist, Maud Gonne. Even supposing she again and again refused to marry Yeats, Maud would turn into the object of his passion and his poetry. The emotional power in many of Yeats’ early poems is shaped by the only-sidedness of his affair with Maud, but the poems themselves remain hopeful and bitter-sweet, pure in their language and attitudes about love.

The forty-one poems collected in A Poet to his Beloved represent a few of Yeats’s most evocative and passionate early love poems. These versed are simple, lyrical, and regularly dreamy, and so they speak knowingly of innocence and beauty, passion and desire, devotion and the fear of rejection.


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