“This year sees a worldwide series of creative and cultural events celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of William Butler Yeats,” Adrian Paterson begins an opinion piece in The Irish Times that serves as a good introduction to the sesquicentennial. He writes:
…Yeats was more than a poet. He was a cultural revolutionary who became a cultural entrepreneur. He began things, co-founding the Abbey Theatre, the Irish Literary Society and, with his talented family, the Cuala Press, producing designs and books from a single hand-press in Dublin. He was anything but a solitary dreamer: his collaborations with musicians, actors, dramatists, stage designers, folklorists, journalists, artists, dancers, printers, occultists, broadcasters and lovers are reflected in the vibrant range of celebratory events on offer.
Here, from February 1915 (when he was 50) is Yeats’ “On being asked for a War Poem,” which was written less than a year into the conflict remembered today as World War I.