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Books > Culture > Poetry

The world of Irish poetry is dominated by its two winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature, William Butler Yeats (awarded in 1923) and Seamus Heaney (1995). Below are brief biographies of these two Nobel laureates, plus links to read selected poems by both poets.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

William Butler Yeats

W.B. Yeats is widely acclaimed as one of the finest poets of the twentieth century. He studied at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin, and in 1885 his first poems were published in The Dublin University Review. He held a lifelong fascination with the occult, delving deeply into subjects such as reincarnation, Oriental mysticism automatic writing, and communication with dead spirits. Yeats was passionate on the topic of Celtic identity as well, and he collected and published several volumes of Irish folk tales, fairy tales, and stories taken from Irish and Celtic mythology. Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.

Read Selected Poems by William Butler Yeats

The Everlasting Voices The Cap and Bells The Witch
All Things Can Tempt Me The Fascination of What's Difficult The Young Man's Song

Seamus Heaney (1939 - )

Born in 1939 in Northern Ireland, Heaney published Death of a Naturalist, his first book of poetry, in 1966. In the decades since, Heaney has written and published many other volumes of poetry and criticism. Occupying the chair of the Professor of Poetry at Oxford University from 1989 to 1994, Heaney received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. He currently divides his time between Dublin and Boston, where he is Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University.

Read Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney

Act of Union Lovers on Aran Strange Fruit
Song Rite of Spring Docker

Irish Poetry Books | W.B. Yeats Books | Seamus Heaney Books