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Tower, The

A Vision, W. B. Yeats: Man and Poet, The Tower

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: James Thomson Biography to Hugh [Redwald] Trevor-Roper Baron Dacre Biography

a collection of verse by W. B. Yeats, published in 1928, which contains a number of his best-known poems and marks the beginning of the final and most masterly phase of his work. The volume also exemplifies the fineness of production characteristic of many of his books; the green cover, designed by T. Sturge Moore, is inlaid with a stylized illustration in gold of Thoor Ballylee, the tower near Coole Park which Yeats lived in after his marriage in 1917. The tower and its surroundings are repeatedly alluded to, notably in the title poem and ‘Meditations in Time of Civil War’, a sequence conflating Yeats's direct observations of the conflict in Ireland in 1922 and 1923 with the pessimistic historical prognosis he set out in A Vision (1925). The twenty-one poems also include ‘Among School Children’, ‘Leda and the Swan’, ‘Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen’, ‘All Souls' Night’, and ‘Sailing to Byzantium’. Rhymed forms are adjusted with great virtuosity to the rhetorically heightened conversational idiom of the collection to establish the prevailing manner of his later work. The poetry also gains depth and range from the constant interplay between personal experience and larger philosophical or public themes. As A. Norman Jeffares remarked in W. B. Yeats: Man and Poet (1949), ‘The poetry of The Tower period is rich because of the fullness of Yeats's life, because his style was reaching maturity at the same time as his life.’

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