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Burns Library Acquires Yeats Materials

(9-28-99) - The John J. Burns Library has acquired letters and manuscripts of poems by the Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats to bolster what is already regarded as the strongest Yeats collection outside of Ireland.

The materials include correspondence between Yeats and the young poet Margot Ruddock in the 1930s and drawings and letters from other friends and family in the Yeats circle.

Burns Librarian Robert O'Neill said this latest acquisition of Yeats materials, obtained from a private collector who wishes to remain anonymous, is notable for its breadth as well as its depth.

"This diverse collection of correspondence and manuscript material adds substantially to our holdings on Yeats and firmly establishes us as the foremost Yeats repository outside of the National Library of Ireland," said O'Neill.

W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) was a founder of the Abbey Theatre, a spokesman for the Irish Literary Revival, and a member of the Irish Free State Senate. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.

Prof. Adele Dalsimer (English), co-director of the Irish Studies Program, said the newly-acquired materials include correspondence from three different periods in Yeats' life that "speak to a range of his preoccupations."

The early correspondence from 1901 characterizes Yeats "at a time when he is very involved with things Irish," including writing plays for the fledgling Abbey Theatre in Dublin, said Dalsimer. Materials from 1923-24 include a typescript of his preface to Axel, "a book that was extremely important to him in the early years of his development," Dalsimer said.

Later correspondence dating from 1934-37 deal with Yeats' radio presentations for the BBC and his relationship with the young poet Ruddock, for whom he wrote the following poem, titled "Margot":

All Famine struck sat I, and then
Those generous eyes on mine were cast,
Sat like other aged men
Dumfoundered, gazing on a past
That appeared constructed of
Lost opportunities to love.

O how can I that interest hold?
What offer to attentive eyes?
Mind grows young and body old;
When half closed her eye-lid lies
A sort of hidden glory shall
About these stooping shoulders fall.

The Age of Miracles renew,
Let me be loved as though still young
Or let me fancy that it's true,
When my brief final years are gone
You shall have time to turn away
And cram those open eyes with day.

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