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Best known for his poetry, William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) was also a dedicated exponent of Irish folklore. Yeats took a particular interest in the tales' mythic and magical roots. The Celtic Twilight ventures into the eerie and puckish world of fairies, ghosts, and spirits. "This handful of dreams," as the author referred to it, first appeared in 1893, and its title refe Best known for his poetry, William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) was also a dedicated exponent of Irish folklore. Yeats took a particular interest in the tales' mythic and magical roots. The Celtic Twilight ventures into the eerie and puckish world of fairies, ghosts, and spirits. "This handful of dreams," as the author referred to it, first appeared in 1893, and its title refers to the pre-dawn hours, when the Druids performed their rituals. It consists of stories recounted to the poet by his friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. Yeats' faithful transcription of their narratives includes his own visionary experiences, appended to the storytellers' words as a form of commentary.


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Best known for his poetry, William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) was also a dedicated exponent of Irish folklore. Yeats took a particular interest in the tales' mythic and magical roots. The Celtic Twilight ventures into the eerie and puckish world of fairies, ghosts, and spirits. "This handful of dreams," as the author referred to it, first appeared in 1893, and its title refe Best known for his poetry, William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) was also a dedicated exponent of Irish folklore. Yeats took a particular interest in the tales' mythic and magical roots. The Celtic Twilight ventures into the eerie and puckish world of fairies, ghosts, and spirits. "This handful of dreams," as the author referred to it, first appeared in 1893, and its title refers to the pre-dawn hours, when the Druids performed their rituals. It consists of stories recounted to the poet by his friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. Yeats' faithful transcription of their narratives includes his own visionary experiences, appended to the storytellers' words as a form of commentary.

30 review for The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    In his youth Yeats was a member of the Golden Dawn, an occult society; he wrote this book during that time, and it's widely seen as a manifesto about his belief in faeries and magic and such. And it is that - but it's not what you think. When he says "Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet." (p. 4) he's saying that he believes in magic, yes, but hi In his youth Yeats was a member of the Golden Dawn, an occult society; he wrote this book during that time, and it's widely seen as a manifesto about his belief in faeries and magic and such. And it is that - but it's not what you think. When he says "Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet." (p. 4) he's saying that he believes in magic, yes, but his definition of "belief" is subtler than people give him credit for. He's talking about the power of myth in building culture and identity, and his book, broadly a collection of Irish folklore gathered from bars and washerwomen, will be about the impact of myth on the Irish character. "You - you will make no terms with the spirits of fire and earth and air and water. You have made the Darkness your enemy. We - we exchange civilities with the world beyond." (p. 93) And that difference - that the Irish consider themselves allied with the faeries and imps that inhabit their land - does say something important about the Irish. Compare that statement to the array of superstitions cataloged in Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, where anything and everything is a bad omen. And remember how Americans have historically felt about witches. We have a different, more fearful attitude toward the unknown. The quote above isn't about faeries; it's about the Irish. A warning note: as he got older, Yeats grew out of his Golden Dawn days. By the time he reprinted Celtic Twilight (and two other short works) in Mythologies, he was embarrassed by some of his more imaginative points, and he ended up editing all the fun out of it. Mythologies will still do as a collection of Irish folklore, but it's not as weird and beautiful as it originally was. Here's my review of Mythologies, which doesn't really say anything you didn't just read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    The Celtic Twilight (1902) is a book of encounters. The encounters Yeats writes of are the meetings between the Irish people and the faeries, but equally interesting are those other encounters: the meetings between the young Protestant poet and the Catholic Irish who tell him their ancient stories so that he can write them down in this book. Although Yeats’ poetry—even the early, overly precious stuff—is always filled with beauties to admire, his prose can sometimes be pedantic and rather dry. I The Celtic Twilight (1902) is a book of encounters. The encounters Yeats writes of are the meetings between the Irish people and the faeries, but equally interesting are those other encounters: the meetings between the young Protestant poet and the Catholic Irish who tell him their ancient stories so that he can write them down in this book. Although Yeats’ poetry—even the early, overly precious stuff—is always filled with beauties to admire, his prose can sometimes be pedantic and rather dry. In Celtic Twilight, though, Yeats' every utterance is informed by the richness of Irish speech, and the result is a balanced, lively prose, filled with vivid images and revealing asides. Two things struck me during my reading of this book. The first was how much I love the Irish conception of the faeries, for they are neither minor demons like the Scots variety nor good little souls like the treacly British type. No, Irish faeries are neither malevolent nor particularly merciful. Instead, they are mischievous to the core, with unquenchable appetites for confusion. But they may just as easily do you a good turn as a bad one. It all depends on the nature of the performance. Secondly, I was struck with the emotional intensity in some of the tales of beautiful women in the book. Yeats met Maude Gonne in 1889—thirteen years before the publication of Celtic Twilight. It was then, as Yeats has said, that “the troubling of my life began,” and you can see the signs of the continual troubling here: There is the old square castle, Ballylee, inhabited by a farmer and his wife, and a cottage where their daughter and their son-in-law live, and a little mill with an old miller, and old ash-trees throwing green shadows upon a little river and great stepping-stones. I went there two or three times last year to talk to the miller . . . . I have been there this summer, and I shall be there again before it is autumn, because Mary Hynes, a beautiful woman whose name is still a wonder by turf fires, died there sixty years ago; for our feet would linger where beauty has lived its life of sorrow to make us understand that it is not of the world. An old man brought me a little way from the mill and the castle, and down a long, narrow boreen that was nearly lost in brambles and sloe bushes, and he said, ‘. . . . They say she was the handsomest girl in Ireland, her skin was like dribbled snow’ - he meant driven snow, perhaps, - ‘and she had blushes in her cheeks.” . . . . An old weaver, whose son is supposed to go away among the Sidhe (the faeries) at night, says, ‘Mary Hynes was the most beautiful thing ever made. My mother used to tell me about her, for she’d be at every hurling, and wherever she was she was dressed in white. As many as eleven men asked her in marriage in one day, but she wouldn’ t have any of them. There was a lot of men up beyond Kilbecanty one night, sitting together drinking, and talking of her, and one of them got up and set out to go to Ballylee and see her; but Cloon Bog was open then, and when he came to it he fell into the water, and they found him dead there in the morning. She died of the fever that was before the famine.’ . . . . There is an old woman who remembers her, at Derrybrien among the Echtge hills, a vast desolate place . . . . She says, ‘The sun and the moon never shone on anybody so handsome, and her skin was so white that it looked blue, and she had two little blushes on her cheeks.’ . . . . But a man by the shore at Kinvara, who is too young to remember Mary Hynes, says, ‘Everybody says there is no one at all to be seen now so handsome; it is said she had beautiful hair, the colour of gold. She was poor, but her clothes every day were the same as Sunday, she had such neatness. And if she went to any kind of a meeting, they would all be killing one another for a sight of her, and there was a great many in love with her, but she died young. It is said that no one that has a song made about them will ever live long.’ She died young because the gods loved her . . . . These poor countrymen and countrywomen in their beliefs, and in their emotions, are many years nearer to that old Greek world, that set beauty beside the fountain of things, than are our men of learning. She ‘had seen too much of the world’ ; but these old men and women, when they tell of her, blame another and not her, and though they can be hard, they grow gentle as the old men of Troy grew gentle when Helen passed by on the walls. If that “old square castle, Ballylee” sounds familiar, it should. Yeats bought it fourteen years after Celtic Twilight was published, and lived their during the summer. (They call it “Yeat’s Tower” now.) Even if Yeat couldn’t be close to the beautiful Maud Gonne, he could be close to the ghost of Mary Hynes instead.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    William Butler Yeats. When I read this name I think of lyric Irish poetry, a Nobel prize ... and Guinness. Yeats was also a discerning student of Irish fantasy. The emerald isle is, to many, synonymous with legends of faeries and folk tales of the unseen world. In 1893 Yeats published Celtic Twilight, a collection of essays, sketches, and anecdotes all with imagery and language reminiscent of Ireland’s connections to a mystical past. “Folk art is, indeed, the oldest of the aristocracies of thought William Butler Yeats. When I read this name I think of lyric Irish poetry, a Nobel prize ... and Guinness. Yeats was also a discerning student of Irish fantasy. The emerald isle is, to many, synonymous with legends of faeries and folk tales of the unseen world. In 1893 Yeats published Celtic Twilight, a collection of essays, sketches, and anecdotes all with imagery and language reminiscent of Ireland’s connections to a mystical past. “Folk art is, indeed, the oldest of the aristocracies of thought, and because it refuses what is passing and trivial, the merely clever and pretty, as certainly as the vulgar and insincere, and because it has gathered into itself the simplest and most unforgettable thoughts of the generations, it is the soil where all great art is rooted.” Yeats leads the reader on a tour of his homeland; we are introduced to a part of his life and he takes the style of a guide, escorting us in his charming and poetic way on a tour of his island home. We hear the language of his people and see through his countrymen’s perspective. Finally, he ends our visit with a poem: Into the Twilight. Out-worn heart, in a time out-worn, Come clear of the nets of wrong and right; Laugh, heart, again in the gray twilight; Sigh, heart, again in the dew of the morn. Thy mother Eire is always young, Dew ever shining and twilight gray, Though hope fall from thee or love decay Burning in fires of a slanderous tongue. Come, heart, where hill is heaped upon hill, For there the mystical brotherhood Of hollow wood and the hilly wood And the changing moon work out their will. And God stands winding his lonely horn; And Time and World are ever in flight, And love is less kind than the gray twilight, And hope is less dear than the dew of the morn.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Forrest

    I feel as if I've been reading and connecting with a lot of Welsh and Irish writing lately. Machen, Graves, (soon to be reading again) Beckett, (also soon to be reading again) Joyce, and now, Yeats. It's probably genetic, to be honest. My dad's biological parents were likely of Irish stock (their last name was Bigley - I got "Aguirre," which is Basque, by the way, not Spanish, at least not in my case - from my adoptive grandparents). My mom was of mixed German (my grandmother was oh-so-German) a I feel as if I've been reading and connecting with a lot of Welsh and Irish writing lately. Machen, Graves, (soon to be reading again) Beckett, (also soon to be reading again) Joyce, and now, Yeats. It's probably genetic, to be honest. My dad's biological parents were likely of Irish stock (their last name was Bigley - I got "Aguirre," which is Basque, by the way, not Spanish, at least not in my case - from my adoptive grandparents). My mom was of mixed German (my grandmother was oh-so-German) and Welsh stock. So, yeah, I have some Celtic blood flowing through me. Maybe that's why I gravitate towards these works? While this book is chock full of wonderful tales of Sidhe and ghosts, each documented by Yeats through conversations and anecdotes he recorded from people that he met, that's not the most attractive thing to me about the book. I am more intrigued by the poesis of Yeats' commentary. Right from the beginning, Yeats comments: How do we not know but that our own unreason may be better than another's truth? He spends some amount of time and effort helping the reader to understand the Irish (and the differently-directed Scottish) attitude toward the fey world. The world just beyond ours is inhabited by capricious beings with whom one might enter intercourse (of the verbal kind) that are not necessarily evil or scary, but winsome, even incomprehensible in their motivations. One must just accept them as fact and deal with them, not try to abjure (nor invoke) them. They are as natural as the landscape around us and one must treat them like a wild, but not necessarily inimical, animal, though an animal of extremely high intelligence and with some knowledge beyond that of mortal men. But again, I was not so much focused on them as I was on Yeats' published assumptions, his "givens" about them and our interaction with them: Indeed there are times when the worlds are so near together that it seems as if our earthly chattels were no more than the shadows of things beyond. This is where the "meat" of the book comes in, it is in the sublimation of one's mind to the attitude of those interviewed and quoted therein. In order to see the fantastical, one must think fantastically and it must be as natural as breathing for him or her. In a society that has cast out imaginative tradition, only a few people - three or four thousand out of millions - favoured by their own characters and by happy circumstance, and only then after much labour, have understanding of imaginative things and yet 'the imagination is the man himself.' Some of that labour must come in the form of study. I would strongly recommend reading Robert Graves' The White Goddess in conjunction with this book. Yeats shares an anecdote about the blind poet Raftery talking to a bush, for instance, the Bush answering in Irish, and "gave him the knowledge of all the things of the world," then withered up. This sounds like something straight out of Graves' amazing book. I wonder if he read this anecdote from Yeats' work. In any case, the connection seems certain, or at least uncanny. Are the Sidhe saying something here? I would also point you to Gary Lachman's Lost Knowledge of the Imagination for an excellent primer on how to tap into that fantastical head-space I mentioned earlier. Reading all three at once would be a powerful experience, indeed. One that might leave you . . . changed. For the better. But changed, nonetheless.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leo .

    As a child I was fascinated by words. The etymology of words. The tones. How some words look similar. How some words sound similar. How words...spell. Faerie and Pharoe. I have also over many years had an interest in different cultures and their similarities. Particularly the Celtic and Egyptian cultures. I have been to Egypt and as a resident of the UK have visited many Celtic sites. Over many years I have wondered about the similarities between these two cultures. Chariots. Pyramids. Mysticism As a child I was fascinated by words. The etymology of words. The tones. How some words look similar. How some words sound similar. How words...spell. Faerie and Pharoe. I have also over many years had an interest in different cultures and their similarities. Particularly the Celtic and Egyptian cultures. I have been to Egypt and as a resident of the UK have visited many Celtic sites. Over many years I have wondered about the similarities between these two cultures. Chariots. Pyramids. Mysticism. I wonder if Imoteph was actually a Druid. The magicians of Egypt practiced black magic. Kabbala, numerology, gnosticism. They were very enlightened and had great knowledge of the sciences just like the Druids. When one spells the word Judaism it sounds familiar to Druidism. Also Jew sounds like Dru. Was Merlin and Imoteph of the same ilk? Elizabeth 1 right hand, Sir John Dee, was himself into the druidic and kabbalistic practices. Signed his works with...007. Interesting. Was a Druids Wand made from Holly Wood? Hmmm! What was William Blake referring to when he wrote Jerusalem? England, the New Juresalem? That green and pleasant land. Was that before or after the Roman Empire swallowed England?🐯👍 BY WILLIAM BLAKE And did those feet in ancient time Walk upon Englands mountains green: And was the holy Lamb of God, On Englands pleasant pastures seen!   And did the Countenance Divine, Shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded here, Among these dark Satanic Mills?   Bring me my Bow of burning gold: Bring me my arrows of desire: Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold! Bring me my Chariot of fire!   I will not cease from Mental Fight, Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand: Till we have built Jerusalem, In Englands green & pleasant Land.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul E. Morph

    For those of you who have read Yeats’ ‘Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry’, this book is more of the same. For those of you who haven’t, and those of you with a particularly masochistic bent, here’s the link to my review of said book: Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry The main difference between this book and that is that Yeats puts more of himself into this one, in a way that’s difficult to define. Stories of particular note were a very early version of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ For those of you who have read Yeats’ ‘Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry’, this book is more of the same. For those of you who haven’t, and those of you with a particularly masochistic bent, here’s the link to my review of said book: Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry The main difference between this book and that is that Yeats puts more of himself into this one, in a way that’s difficult to define. Stories of particular note were a very early version of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and an almost unrecognisable early version of ‘Cinderella’. Both were very interesting, compared to the more recent versions we’re more familiar with today.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This has such an evocative title, I've wanted to read it for decades. I'd expected it to be a lyrical celebration of the folkloric traditions of Ireland, and those parts of it that were that, I found the best. For the rest, it was a collection of brief outlines of fairly typical folkloric tales, interspersed with some slightly longer stories, some of which were interesting. A slightly disappointing read, but still worthwhile. 3.5/5🌟 This has such an evocative title, I've wanted to read it for decades. I'd expected it to be a lyrical celebration of the folkloric traditions of Ireland, and those parts of it that were that, I found the best. For the rest, it was a collection of brief outlines of fairly typical folkloric tales, interspersed with some slightly longer stories, some of which were interesting. A slightly disappointing read, but still worthwhile. 3.5/5🌟

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This is Yeats's collection of stories and lore surrounding Celtic fairies, ghosts and spirits. It's available at Librivox.org (audio) and at Sacred Texts. Most of the chapters are pretty short. My favorites are "The Hosting of the Sidhe" (the poem that opens the book), "A Teller of Tales" (Yeats's description of Paddy Flynn, the storyteller who provided him with many of these tales), "The Untiring Ones" (concerning humans who were enchanted by the fairies) "The Man and His Boots" (a funny story a This is Yeats's collection of stories and lore surrounding Celtic fairies, ghosts and spirits. It's available at Librivox.org (audio) and at Sacred Texts. Most of the chapters are pretty short. My favorites are "The Hosting of the Sidhe" (the poem that opens the book), "A Teller of Tales" (Yeats's description of Paddy Flynn, the storyteller who provided him with many of these tales), "The Untiring Ones" (concerning humans who were enchanted by the fairies) "The Man and His Boots" (a funny story about a man whose boots are haunted), and "A Remonstrance with Scotsmen for Having Soured the Disposition of Their Ghosts and Faeries." That last one is an essay about the Scottish attitude towards fairies and spirits, contrasted with the Irish attitude. Yeats writes: "You have discovered the faeries to be pagan and wicked. You would like to have them all up before the magistrate. In Ireland warlike mortals have gone amongst them, and helped them in their battles, and they in turn have taught men great skill with herbs, and permitted some few to hear their tunes. Carolan slept upon a faery rath. Ever after their tunes ran in his head, and made him the great musician he was. In Scotland you have denounced them from the pulpit. In Ireland they have been permitted by the priests to consult them on the state of their souls. Unhappily the priests have decided that they have no souls, that they will dry up like so much bright vapour at the last day; but more in sadness than in anger they have said it. The Catholic religion likes to keep on good terms with its neighbours."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tifany

    A definite must-read for anyone interested in fairy tales, especially the Irish sort, as I've never found anything better. Yeats, of course, should be read for his own sake, anyway, and if you want more Yeats, go for MYTHOLOGIES, the version that includes both the Celtic Twilight and Yeats' own retellings, in prose, of Irish epic stories, as well as his own original tales. There's another Yeats collection of traditional tales--Irish Folk and Fairy Stories--that also includes the Celtic Twilight, A definite must-read for anyone interested in fairy tales, especially the Irish sort, as I've never found anything better. Yeats, of course, should be read for his own sake, anyway, and if you want more Yeats, go for MYTHOLOGIES, the version that includes both the Celtic Twilight and Yeats' own retellings, in prose, of Irish epic stories, as well as his own original tales. There's another Yeats collection of traditional tales--Irish Folk and Fairy Stories--that also includes the Celtic Twilight, but if you're not sure how much of this you want, and want to start with just the best, start with the Celtic Twilight. Yeats has a lovely Chekhovian trick of introducing a new thought, a new branching out of the story, just in the last few lines of many of the pieces, that makes this volume especially numinous and atmospheric. Conor McPherson's play, The Weir, is also a good read in this vein, though it has a contemporary setting--it has a very Yeatsian feel, in the way it brings the supernatural into the everyday, though it's humor is (in a welcome way) more sly.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    This was a slow start but this is the faery that I love! Here they are bit good or wholesome, Yeats writes them for the mischievous, ethereal, haunting, fearful, spiteful and vengeful beings that they are! Being the first work of Yeats I've ever read, I was unsure as to what I was getting into but I might just read more of his work. Took a bit for me to wrap my head towards the writing style as I've been reading a lot of modern fiction thus the slow speed but I also think that it had to do with Y This was a slow start but this is the faery that I love! Here they are bit good or wholesome, Yeats writes them for the mischievous, ethereal, haunting, fearful, spiteful and vengeful beings that they are! Being the first work of Yeats I've ever read, I was unsure as to what I was getting into but I might just read more of his work. Took a bit for me to wrap my head towards the writing style as I've been reading a lot of modern fiction thus the slow speed but I also think that it had to do with Yeats' writing style.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rodney

    You can have your cones and interpenetrating gyres; for me, the unguarded, soppy Romanticism of The Celtic Twilight, based on the diaries the young Yeats kept as he tromped through Irish village life, is the best guide to the obsessions and occult yearnings that animate his poetry, early & late. The anecdotes and rambling asides capture the poet in his native habitat, head in the clouds and feet in the bog of an Ireland that never quite was, but that he needed to shake off the bluff rationalism You can have your cones and interpenetrating gyres; for me, the unguarded, soppy Romanticism of The Celtic Twilight, based on the diaries the young Yeats kept as he tromped through Irish village life, is the best guide to the obsessions and occult yearnings that animate his poetry, early & late. The anecdotes and rambling asides capture the poet in his native habitat, head in the clouds and feet in the bog of an Ireland that never quite was, but that he needed to shake off the bluff rationalism of his father's generation and put on that questioning, less self-assured thing called the Modern.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Yeats believed in faeries. My hero! These are the tricksy meddlesome faeries of Irish myth and legend, and his book chronicles real life documentation of faery happenings and occurences from Irish locals. Yeats was fascinated by the power of myth and how it impacts on everyday life. We have here tales of ghosts, faery pigs in the forest, enchanted glades, changelings, the strange creatures of the hedgerows. What is fascinating is that these are both fabulous tales and a record of popular beliefs Yeats believed in faeries. My hero! These are the tricksy meddlesome faeries of Irish myth and legend, and his book chronicles real life documentation of faery happenings and occurences from Irish locals. Yeats was fascinated by the power of myth and how it impacts on everyday life. We have here tales of ghosts, faery pigs in the forest, enchanted glades, changelings, the strange creatures of the hedgerows. What is fascinating is that these are both fabulous tales and a record of popular beliefs in Ireland at the beginning of the 20th century. Yeats was heavily involved in mysticism, and was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn - magic and the otherwordly permeate his writings and poems, and he has a beautiful and evocative voice. I will definitely seek out a hard copy of this. Available on LibriVox and Sacred Texts.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Available to read legally and free on Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/10459 Available to read legally and free on Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/10459

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a delightful collection of old Irish folklore, mostly deriving from the area around Ben Bulben and County Sligo. Speaking of the existence of faerie, William Butler Yeats writes:I say to myself, when I am well out of that thicket of argument, that they are surely there, the divine people, for only we who have neither simplicity nor wisdom have denied them, and the simple of all times and the wise men of ancient times have seen them and even spoken to them. They live out their passionate This is a delightful collection of old Irish folklore, mostly deriving from the area around Ben Bulben and County Sligo. Speaking of the existence of faerie, William Butler Yeats writes:I say to myself, when I am well out of that thicket of argument, that they are surely there, the divine people, for only we who have neither simplicity nor wisdom have denied them, and the simple of all times and the wise men of ancient times have seen them and even spoken to them. They live out their passionate lives not far off, as I think, and we shall be among them when we die if we but keep our natures simple and passionate.The little stories, many less than a page in length, are beautifully told. The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore is worth a read whether you are a believer -- or not.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sheila Goicea

    I'm a sucker for folklore, especially Irish (and Scottish) folklore, because 'tis were my roots lie. I randomly came across this book while scanning through the Kindle classics store on Amazon. Seeing "Celtic" in the title, I immediately downloaded it, not even reading the description. Just the thought of combining classical literature with Celtic...I couldn't help myself. For being a conglomeration of short tales, this little book was a delightfully light read. If you are looking for a palette cl I'm a sucker for folklore, especially Irish (and Scottish) folklore, because 'tis were my roots lie. I randomly came across this book while scanning through the Kindle classics store on Amazon. Seeing "Celtic" in the title, I immediately downloaded it, not even reading the description. Just the thought of combining classical literature with Celtic...I couldn't help myself. For being a conglomeration of short tales, this little book was a delightfully light read. If you are looking for a palette cleanser between books or series, this could be your go-to. It is beautifully and poetically (obviously since Yeats was and is known best for his poetry) written. Not being familiar with Yeats' work before this, it has intrigued me to look into his other literature. However mystifying this read was, there was a strong undertone throughout the book of Yeats communication to the reader that the world of magic shouldn't be set within such strict bounds. Maybe, tales of folklore have truth in them, or, were and possibly are true. Maybe there is more to this world than meets the eye, and maybe, we will be pleasantly surprised. "If we could love and hate with as good heart as the faeries do, we might grow to be long-lived like them. But until that day their untiring joys and sorrows must ever be one-half of their fascination. Love with them never grows weary, nor can the circles of the stars tire out their dancing feet." This review can also be viewed on my blog: She's Going Book Crazy

  16. 4 out of 5

    caroline

    this is mostly Yeats chatting with the folk from which he would later collect tales; there's some 'once it was hazy and i saw—' but i'd argue this is non-fiction as it primarily details Yeats' travels --- there's definitely a classist overtone; WBY doesn't hide his belief in his cultural/economic superiority --- would rec to those interested in collection & preservation of cultures, amateur /professional anthropologists, sociologists, archivists, the generally-inquisitive, et al. this is mostly Yeats chatting with the folk from which he would later collect tales; there's some 'once it was hazy and i saw—' but i'd argue this is non-fiction as it primarily details Yeats' travels --- there's definitely a classist overtone; WBY doesn't hide his belief in his cultural/economic superiority --- would rec to those interested in collection & preservation of cultures, amateur /professional anthropologists, sociologists, archivists, the generally-inquisitive, et al.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steven Gao

    Really don't have many words on it, but it is THE book that I read and instantly fell in love with Ireland. It possesses the power to calm down a palpitating heart. Beautifully written. Really don't have many words on it, but it is THE book that I read and instantly fell in love with Ireland. It possesses the power to calm down a palpitating heart. Beautifully written.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maggi Harris

    3.5 stars. The first version I bought was awful, a cheap printing and one run-on sentence with poor grammar. The second version I bought is easier to read, but, again with the run-on sentences. While I appreciate the sentimentality of Yeats’ work, the grammar really detracted from the story for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Reading a book greater than (or close to) a century in age typically requires a shift in my reading attitude and patience level. I often find myself re-reading a sentence a few times to fully parse it (I'm looking at you Walden) only to realize the author made a joke and it's actually quite amusing. The Celtic Twilight is no exception. And it can be read in a couple different ways. 1. As a modern day non-believer inclined to say "What is this nonsense and who believes in this crap?" 2. In a univ Reading a book greater than (or close to) a century in age typically requires a shift in my reading attitude and patience level. I often find myself re-reading a sentence a few times to fully parse it (I'm looking at you Walden) only to realize the author made a joke and it's actually quite amusing. The Celtic Twilight is no exception. And it can be read in a couple different ways. 1. As a modern day non-believer inclined to say "What is this nonsense and who believes in this crap?" 2. In a universe where faery folk and the like are known to be real but of which the reader has little or no first hand experience. Option 1 is not nearly as fun and it really ruins this book. Now option 2, that makes for a good time. I'm talking feelings of "Wow, this is really wild stuff!" and "I really want to get out there and see some of this for myself (or do I?)." I prefer option 2.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    THIS BOOK I have desired, like every artist, to create a little world out of the beautiful, pleasant, and significant things of this marred and clumsy world, and to show in a vision something of the face of Ireland to any of my own people who would look where I bid them. I have therefore written down accurately and candidly much that I have heard and seen, and, except by way of commentary, nothing that I have merely imagined. I have, however, been at no pains to separate my own beliefs from those THIS BOOK I have desired, like every artist, to create a little world out of the beautiful, pleasant, and significant things of this marred and clumsy world, and to show in a vision something of the face of Ireland to any of my own people who would look where I bid them. I have therefore written down accurately and candidly much that I have heard and seen, and, except by way of commentary, nothing that I have merely imagined. I have, however, been at no pains to separate my own beliefs from those of the peasantry, but have rather let my men and women, dhouls and faeries, go their way unoffended or defended by any argument of mine. The things a man has heard and seen are threads of life, and if he pull them carefully from the confused distaff of memory, any who will can weave them into whatever garments of belief please them best. I too have woven my garment like another, but I shall try to keep warm in it, and shall be well content if it do not unbecome me. - W.B. Yeats Entries 1893 – 1902 A Teller of Tales / Belief and Unbelief / Mortal Help / A Visionary / Village Ghosts / Dust Hath Closed Helen’s Eye / A Night of the Sheep / An Enduring Heart / The Sorcerers / The Devil / Happy and Unhappy Theologians / The Last Gleeman / Regina, Regina Pigmeorum, Veni / “And Fair, Fierce Woman” / Enchanted Woods / Miraculous Creatures / Aristotle of the Books / The Swine of the Gods / A Voice / Kidnappers / The Untiring Ones / Earth, Fire and Water / The Old Town / The Man in his Boots / A Coward / The Three O’Byrnes and the Evil Faeries / Drumcliff and Rosses / The Thick Skull of the Fortunate / The Religion of a Sailor / Concerning the Nearness Together of Heaven, Earth, and Purgatory / The Eaters of Precious Stones / Our Lady of the Hills / The Golden Age / War / The Queen and the fool / A Remonstrance with Scotsmen for having Soured the Disposition of their Ghosts and Faeries / The Friends of the People of Faery / Dreams that have no Moral / By the Roadside

  21. 5 out of 5

    Regina Andreassen

    I enjoyed the first pages of this book but as I continued reading I lost interest. This isn't a well organised book, neither it is a collection of stories. The prose is sometimes beautiful but most of this book feels disjointed and, in my opinion, this work has little -if any- literary value. As some other readers have commented, some chapters just feel like notes taken by the author, rather than smartly narrated tales or folk stories. I don't think this book has a well-defined genre, instead th I enjoyed the first pages of this book but as I continued reading I lost interest. This isn't a well organised book, neither it is a collection of stories. The prose is sometimes beautiful but most of this book feels disjointed and, in my opinion, this work has little -if any- literary value. As some other readers have commented, some chapters just feel like notes taken by the author, rather than smartly narrated tales or folk stories. I don't think this book has a well-defined genre, instead this book feels like a first draft, or notes taken by an author undertaking some brainstorming and trying to discover what to do with his notes. This may sound harsh but even though I very rarely feel like I am wasting my time reading a book; this time, sadly, I feel that I misused my time reading it and perhaps I should have stopped reading when I knew that the writing wasn't going to improve at all. Overall, there is nothing remarkable about this book; it is not what I expected at all. I give it two stars for the first chapters, and the sometimes beautiful prose and nice reflections.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Derek Davis

    Maybe it really deserves a full five stars, but it could use a little more tightening and underlying coherence -- even if it is one man's idiosyncratic collection of local stories on the faerie people of Ireland. Forget that , though. Yeats' mind walking the ridge between reason and acceptance of the marvelous-unlikely is a wonder to read. He pinpoints the population's strangely accepting outlook on the "other" people of the countryside, who live just beyond visibility and seem to turn up, more Maybe it really deserves a full five stars, but it could use a little more tightening and underlying coherence -- even if it is one man's idiosyncratic collection of local stories on the faerie people of Ireland. Forget that , though. Yeats' mind walking the ridge between reason and acceptance of the marvelous-unlikely is a wonder to read. He pinpoints the population's strangely accepting outlook on the "other" people of the countryside, who live just beyond visibility and seem to turn up, more often than not, just for the hell of it--to annoy the credulous or simply to waste their and everybody else's time in an often charming way. Not so charming is their habit of "taking" humans (children and the young preferably) and exchanging them for dead bodies. Probably nowhere else in the Old World are the pagan and the Christian so comfortably intertwined -- or at least they were when this was written, at the beginning of the 20th century.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    Continuing with my plan to read a bunch of Yeats before my trip to Ireland, I finished this lovely collection over the weekend. "I am certain that the water, the water of the seas and of lakes, and of mist and rain, has all but made the Irish after its image." It's this description that makes this collection so fun. There's also commentary on how the Irish fae are mischievous but ultimately generally not truly evil, whereas the Scottish versions are often much more grim and dark. For example, in Continuing with my plan to read a bunch of Yeats before my trip to Ireland, I finished this lovely collection over the weekend. "I am certain that the water, the water of the seas and of lakes, and of mist and rain, has all but made the Irish after its image." It's this description that makes this collection so fun. There's also commentary on how the Irish fae are mischievous but ultimately generally not truly evil, whereas the Scottish versions are often much more grim and dark. For example, in the Irish version, a person might find himself forced to turn a corpse on a spit for a night, but at the end, he wakes up just fine in a green meadow. In the Scottish version, he'll end up eaten alive himself. Overall, the collection gives a beautiful picture of the Irish spirit and the way that myths and folklore shape culture. Very enjoyable.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melissa H.S.

    A wonderful little book, full of colorful, strange, eerie, and fantastic stories gathered from local folks at around the turn of the century in Ireland. It's these wonderful folk tales that keep culture alive, and provide important links to truly knowing the histories of people, of places and of our link with the land and with each other. And for you faerie folk lovers, this book is full of the stories of actual (if not colorfully enhanced) encounters in Ireland with the local faerie people. Bea A wonderful little book, full of colorful, strange, eerie, and fantastic stories gathered from local folks at around the turn of the century in Ireland. It's these wonderful folk tales that keep culture alive, and provide important links to truly knowing the histories of people, of places and of our link with the land and with each other. And for you faerie folk lovers, this book is full of the stories of actual (if not colorfully enhanced) encounters in Ireland with the local faerie people. Beautiful!

  25. 5 out of 5

    J.Aleksandr Wootton

    Part dream journal, part field notes of primary research by an amateur folklorist, riddled with beautifully poetic phrases and insights on early-twentieth-century Irish rural culture. An interesting read, and available free from The Gutenberg Project.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    "And after all, can we come to so great evil if we keep a little fire on our hearths and in our souls, and welcome with open hand whatever of excellence come to warm itself, whether it be man or phantom, and do not say too fiercely, even to the ghouls themselves, 'Be ye gone'? When all is said and done, how do we not know but that our own unreason may be better than another's truth? For it has been warmed on our hearths and in our souls, and is ready for the wild bees of truth to hive in it, and "And after all, can we come to so great evil if we keep a little fire on our hearths and in our souls, and welcome with open hand whatever of excellence come to warm itself, whether it be man or phantom, and do not say too fiercely, even to the ghouls themselves, 'Be ye gone'? When all is said and done, how do we not know but that our own unreason may be better than another's truth? For it has been warmed on our hearths and in our souls, and is ready for the wild bees of truth to hive in it, and make their sweet honey." I began this book back in the aether of early January, and though it's a scant 103 pages long, am only finishing it now. On purpose. Too much here to mull over and wade through; too much to savor in a hurry. It's a series of short, compiled field notes from Yeats' personal journeys through rural Ireland and his conversation with her residents. There he encountered, time and again, the sad yet eager spirituality of the Celts. Each entry relays a story or song or poem or conversation about the fair folk of Celtic belief, but it's not as if Yeats is there as objective observer. He avoids merely recording the stories and presenting the finished product as a detached compendium, or (worse?) composing some meta-treatise on fairy tales and folklore. For example, he writes: "I tell these things as accurately as I can, and with no theories to blur the history. Theories are poor things at the best, and the bulk of mine have perished long ago.... I say to myself, when I am well out of that thicket of argument, that they are surely there, the divine people, for only we who have neither simplicity nor wisdom have denied them." At times incredulous and at others devoted to the stories he hears, Yeats avoids the two weaker projects I mentioned above by writing as a self-proclaimed seeker. He first tells the stories straightforwardly, adding a clever or gorgeous turn of phrase here and there (his poetic impulses ever present, I assume). Phrases like "he had the whole Middle Ages under his frieze coat," "the ghosts themselves share in their quant hilarity," "the rosary of the stars," or "everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet," will certainly stay with me. He then adds a bit of his own commentary to each that reiterates what his readers can tell is a personally-held belief: "Folk art is, indeed, the oldest of the aristocracies of thought, and because it refuses what is passing and trivial, the merely clever and pretty, as certainly as the vulgar and insincere, and because it has gathered into itself the simplest and most unforgettable thoughts of the generations, it is the soil where all great art is rooted. Wherever it is spoken by the fireside, or sung by the roadside, or carved upon the lintel, appreciation of the arts that a single mind gives unity and design to, spreads quickly when its hour is come." All of this is wrapped up in a melancholic charm that I am powerless to resist. There is little chance of me taking the time to list all of my underlined passages here, but I intend to revisit Yeats' Ireland throughout the coming years. (another edition has more reviews & ratings over here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7...)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eustacia Tan

    You would think that since this is such a thin book, I would finish reading it ASAP but it has taken me a few months to get to this! I carried with me to Malaysia, out of Malaysia, and through the new year before I picked it up. It’s even weirder when you think about the fact that I like myths and legends. So anyway, The Celtic Twilight reminds me of The People of The Sea, in that it’s basically Yeats writing down various stories that people have told him. It does differ from The People of The Se You would think that since this is such a thin book, I would finish reading it ASAP but it has taken me a few months to get to this! I carried with me to Malaysia, out of Malaysia, and through the new year before I picked it up. It’s even weirder when you think about the fact that I like myths and legends. So anyway, The Celtic Twilight reminds me of The People of The Sea, in that it’s basically Yeats writing down various stories that people have told him. It does differ from The People of The Sea in that The Celtic Twilight feels a lot more like a diary, and contain bits of dreams and other experiences by Yeats. In a way, it’s a collection of oral-tales about fairies in Ireland but not done in a very systematic or intentional manner (as seen by the dates on each entry). I found the language here to be beautiful. Two examples: “What is literature but the expression of moods by the vehicle of symbol and incident? […] Let us go forth, the teller of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear.” “It is one of the great troubles of life that we cannot have any unmixed emotions. There is always something in our enemy that we like, and something in our sweetheart that we dislike.” While I don’t think this is required reading for people who are starting to learn about Irish folklore due to the personal nature of this book, those who are looking for obscure stories told in a beautiful way may want to pick this up. This review first appeared on Eustea Reads

  28. 4 out of 5

    Haines Eason

    So true and so rare a book for its being so very much itself—it has few peers and is hard to explain. “Fairy tales and legends of the Irish country folk captured at the turn of the 1900s” isn’t even close to an accurate summary. Yeats puts you at the hearth and at the feet of so many invisible peasant spinners of tales from a forgotten Ireland—these vignettes are so pure you will be warmed by their coals many winters’ nights hence.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alanna

    These are his and his neighbors’ experiences, as well as a heaping pile of local culture and oral history. Stories are well written and personal, and at many points I read passages aloud to my brother, who found this very amusing. My favorite chapter was the comparison between how the Irish and the Scotts react to the same monsters and spirits, the author plainly insists that the Scotts have ruined their spirits and are horribly uncooperative. “The Scotts burned all their witches. We just left o These are his and his neighbors’ experiences, as well as a heaping pile of local culture and oral history. Stories are well written and personal, and at many points I read passages aloud to my brother, who found this very amusing. My favorite chapter was the comparison between how the Irish and the Scotts react to the same monsters and spirits, the author plainly insists that the Scotts have ruined their spirits and are horribly uncooperative. “The Scotts burned all their witches. We just left ours alone.”

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maan Kawas

    I

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