1st Edition

The Poems of W.B. Yeats Volume Three: 1899-1910

Edited By Peter McDonald Copyright 2023

    In this multi-volume edition, the poetry of W.B. Yeats (1865–1939) is presented in full, with newly established texts and detailed, wide-ranging commentary. Yeats began to write verse in the nineteenth century, and over time his own arrangements of poems repeatedly revised and rearranged both texts and canon. This edition of Yeats’s poetry presents all his verse, both published and unpublished, including a generous selection of textual variants from the many manuscript and printed sources. The edition also supplies the most extensive commentary on Yeats’s poetry to date, explaining specific references, and setting poems in their contexts; it also gives an account of the vast range of both literary and historical influences at work on the verse. The poems are presented in order of composition, and major revisions or rewritings of poems result in separate inclusions (in chronological sequence) for these writings as they were subsequently reconceived by the poet.

    In this third volume, Yeats’s poetry of the first decade of the twentieth century is brought into sharp focus, revealing the extent of his efforts to re-fashion a style that had already made him a well-known poet. All of the major modes in Yeats’s earlier work are subject to radical re-imagining in these years, from poetic narrative founded in Irish myth, in poems such as ‘Baile and Aillinn’ and ‘The Old Age of Queen Maeve’, to the symbolist drama-poetry of The Shadowy Waters, here edited in its two (completely different) versions of 1900 and 1906. In a decade when the theatre was one of Yeats’s principal concerns, his lyric poems, which were becoming increasingly explicit in personal terms, began to discover new intensities of conversational pitch and mythic resonance. Poems such as ‘The Folly of Being Comforted’, ‘Adam’s Curse’, ‘No Second Troy’, and ‘The Fascination of What’s Difficult’ are given close attention in this new edition, alongside topical and epigrammatic pieces that are often passed over in accounts of Yeats’s development. The evolving complexities of Yeats’s personal and political lives are crucial to his artistic growth in these years, and the commentary gives these generous attention, showing how the poetry both feeds upon and often transcends the circumstances of its composition. The volume offers strong evidence for this decade as a crucial one in Yeats’s poetic life, in which the poet created wholly new registers for his verse as well as new dimensions for his imaginative vision.

    A Note From the General Editors


    Chronology of WB Yeats’s Life and Publications, 1899-1910

    List of Abbreviations





    185 The Song of Heffernan the Blind: A Translation

    186 The Shadowy Waters (1900)

    187 The Withering of the Boughs

    188 Under the Moon

    189 [‘I walked among the Seven Woods of Coole’]

    190 Baile and Aillinn

    191 Yellow Haired Donough

    192 [‘Do not make a great keening’]

    193 The Blood Bond

    194 Spinning Song

    195 The Folly of Being Comforted

    196 The Players ask for a Blessing on the Psalteries and on Themselves

    197 The Arrow

    198 Red Hanrahan’s Song about Ireland

    199 The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water

    200 In the Seven Woods

    201 The Old Age of Queen Maeve

    202 Adam’s Curse

    203 The Happy Townland

    204 O Do Not Love Too Long

    205 [‘I heard under a ragged hollow wood’]

    206 Old Memory

    207 Never give all the heart

    208 Song from Deirdre I

    209 The Ragged Wood

    210 The Harp of Aengus

    211 The Shadowy Waters

    212 [‘Come ride and ride to the garden’]

    213 Against Witchcraft

    214 Song from Deirdre III

    215 Song from Deirdre II

    216 [‘The friends that have it I do wrong’]

    217 Maid Quiet

    218 [‘O Death’s old bony finger’]

    219 An Appointment

    220 [‘Accursed who brings to light of day’]

    221 His Dream

    222 All things can tempt me

    223 At Galway races

    224 Reconciliation

    225 No Second Troy

    226 Words

    227 [‘My dear is angry that of late’]

    228 On a certain middle-aged office holder

    229 A Friend’s illness

    230 On George Moore

    231 The Coming of Wisdom with Time

    232 To a Poet, who would have me Praise certain Bad Poets, Imitators of His and Mine

    233 Upon a House Shaken by the Land Agitation

    234 The Fascination of What’s Difficult

    235 [‘Irishmen, if they prefer’]

    236 King and No King

    237 A drinking song

    238 On those that hated ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, 1907

    239 A Woman Homer Sung

    240 Peace

    241 Against Unworthy Praise

    242 These are the Clouds

    243 The Mask

    244 [‘But every powerful life goes on its way…’]

    245 Brown Penny


    Appendix 1: Contents of W.B. Yeats’s Volumes of Poetry, 1899-1910

    Appendix 2: Prefatory Material by W.B. Yeats in Collections of Poetry, 1899-1910

    Index of Poems

    Index of First Lines


    Peter McDonald is an Irish poet and critic. He has published eight books of poetry, including his Collected Poems (2012), and four books of criticism, including Sound Intentions: The Workings of Rhyme in Nineteenth-Century Poetry (2012). He has edited several critical collections, and is the author of numerous articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century poetry. He has taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Bristol, and Oxford, where he became Christopher Tower Student and Tutor in Poetry in 1999. Since 2016, he has been Professor of British and Irish Poetry at the University of Oxford.