Irish poet WB Yeats honoured with worldwide 150th birthday celebrations

Yeats_DigitalFrom a new Irish stamp to a public reading by Fiona Shaw, global events in honour of ‘a great public and private poet’ begin.

The 150th anniversary of the birth of William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet who won the Nobel prize in literature in 1923, is being marked this year with hundreds of events and celebrations around the world.

The author, whose poems took six out of the top 10 slots in a vote at the end of 1999 to find Ireland’s favourite poem, was born in Dublin on 13 June 1865. The year-long celebrations centre on a four-day festival in June in Sligo, the inspiration for much of Yeats’s poetry; one of Yeats’s best-known poems, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, is about an island on Lough Gill: “I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, / And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; / Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, / And live alone in the bee-loud glade.”

More than 40 countries are marking the anniversary with a range of concerts, readings, talks and screenings. These will include a daily reading of a Yeats poem in a Sligo pub – “they range from the sublime to the ridiculous to the great,” said Ian Brannigan, who is running Yeats 2015 – an exhibition about the poet’s life in Singapore, a conference in Budapest and a performance in Vienna.

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