Yeats: A Second Coming

Yeats: A Second Coming

W. B. Yeats: The Poems; Edited by Richard J. Finneran; Macmillan; New York



When Yeats died in 1939 his poetry had not been completely collected and there was some doubt over the right text. His widow was involved in the editing of his work and she had strong and sometimes wrong ideas about its form and content. The result was the book till now in general use, The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats. This was not the last word in editing, but it was a handy volume of less than 500 pages. It contained the poems and not much else. There was no apparatus — no explanation of either the editing or the meaning of the poems.


The Collected Poems have now been replaced by W B. Yeats: The Poems from the same publisher. This is a much more consequential volume, about half again as thick as the one before it. It is less of a joy to read but it has advantages. There is a preface and 100 pages of textual and explanatory notes. More important, it makes significant changes in form and content. The main points about the new edition are:


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