Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Poetry for Kids

William Butler Yeats was one of the finest modern poets in the English language - and also a playwright, theatre manager, politician, and believer in fairies and ghosts. He brings to life the drama, mysticism, and haunting beauty of his native Ireland in this selection of 26 of his most accessible and mesmerizing poems.

Matching the splendor of Yeats' written images is a series of breathtaking paintings, which range from Ireland's atmospheric natural landscape to vivid portraits of his wonderful characters - human, animal, and fantastic.

In "The Song of Wandering Aengus," the legendary god of love, youth, and poetry is on a quest to locate the magical girl who was changed from a fish into a human being - but she is very hard to find. Yeats was inspired to write "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" while standing in a bustling London street. "I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; / While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, / I hear it in the deep heart's core." "The Hosting of the Sidhe" imagines the strange and powerful fairies of Ireland galloping on horseback across the landscape of County Sligo. Read it aloud, and you'll find that its beat is like the regular rhythm of galloping horses. A fierce and terrible battle seen in a dream is at the heart of "The Valley of the Black Pig," in which Yeats imagines spears, warriors on horseback, and the shouts and cries of the fallen.

Title: Poetry for Young People: William Butler Yeats
Editor: Jonathan Allison
Illustrator: Glenn Harrington
Series: Poetry for Young People Series
Published: 2002
Publisher: Sterling Publishing Co.
Pages: 48
Genre: Poetry-Children

The Sterling Publishing Co. has released a series of books called Poetry for Young People in which they take popular poems from great authors like Robert Frost, Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carroll, William Butler Yeats, etc. and pair them with beautiful illustrations to appeal to a young audience. The editor, Jonathan Allison also includes a mini-biography of the poet as well as an explanation of what each poem is about and a glossary for the unfamiliar words at the bottom of each poem. Hopefully this will get them interested in poetry at a young age.

I’ve always liked William Butler Yeats (or WB Yeats as he was sometimes called) because of his familiarity with faeries and such but I never really took the time to find out anything about the author himself nor much about some of his poems until now. I wouldn’t mind looking up more of his poems or books about him soon. He was such an interesting man and with as many things as he was actively involved in I find it amazing that he ever found time to write at all!

I found many poems that I had never read before and really enjoyed them but my favorite poem by Mr. Yeats will always be The Stolen Child. There is just something so lyrical about the prose that makes you want to sing the poem instead of read it.

The award-winning Glenn Harrington has beautifully brought to life each poem on every page. The Sidhe in the painting for the poem The Hosting of the Sidhe look like they’ll start running just the second you turn your back! I thoroughly enjoyed reading the poems provided and these paintings only enriched the experience. After all, what’s a children’s book without pictures in it?

WB Yeats’ poetry has now entered the public domain so you can find almost all of his poems online now and Wikipedia has an article on the man himself too. I also found plenty of videos on YouTube that feature Yeats and/or his poetry.

1 comment:

  1. Wow - those illustrations are amazing, and I have always loved Yeats. "The Stolen Child" is my absolute favorite, too! Have you ever heard The Waterboys sing their musical version of it? (Speaking of singing the poem.) I just put this one on hold at my library - thanks for the wonderful review!



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