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The Irish Myths and Yeats’s Poetry


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Ireland abounds in narrative stories, including mythologies, sagas, legends and folktales, handed down through many generations from the ancient pagan period. In Ireland, especially in the western country Sligo where W. B. Yeats spent the better part of his early days, one cannot go far without hearing the mystic stories of pagan gods, nymphs and ghosts. The Irish are very proud of their unique and traditional Celtic culture and they still believe that the supernatural beings haunt everywhere and intervene in their human affairs. Yeats was educated in England and greatly influenced by many English writers and poets. Yeats, however, born with Celtic spirit and encouraged by the patriot John O’Leary, determined to be a national poet. Therefore, he began to write his early romantic narratives and dramatic verses based on the ancient Irish myths and legends, following the two brilliant predecessors Samuel Ferguson and William Allingham. Besides, what is more important than anything else, he usually put his own life and his unrequited love for Maud Gonne by modifying their themes and symbols into the ancient stories. Thus he succeeded in creating utterly new myths much familiar not only to the Irish today but also to the modern people abroad. Hence he was a renowned myth-maker and -modifier of the age.


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