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William Butler Yeats & The Lake Isle of Innisfree

William Butler Yeats was born in 1865 in the city of Dublin to the Irish painter John Butler Yeats. His childhood was spent in county Sligo, where his parents had been raised and in London, where he was educated. Yeats returned to Dublin to study painting but quickly discovered he preferred poetry. He became deeply involved in Irish culture and the political landscape. He is rightly regarded as one of the most significant poets - in any language - of the 20th century. Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923 and died in 1939 at the age of 73.


Innisfree is a real place, located in Lake Gill in County Sligo, which was an area Yeats loved and knew well. The poem, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" was published in Yeats' second book of poems, The Rose (1893). It is one of his first great and enduring poems. The final line, "I hear it in the deep heart's core", is a crucial statement for Yeats, not just in this poem but for his career as a whole. The belief that truths dwelling deep within the human soul was one that always guided Yeats. Remaining true to the "deep heart's core" was in the opinion of his contemporaries his primary undertaking as a poet.