The Celtic Twilight - Faerie And Folklore, by William Butler Yeats, is a delightful book for one to read when relaxing by the fireside on a chilly evening, or lounging in the shade on a sleepy summer afternoon.
Hope and Memory have one daughter and her name is Art, and she has built her dwelling far from the desperate field where men hang out their garments upon forked boughs to be banners of battle. O beloved daughter of Hope and Memory, be with me for a little.
- W. B. Yeats, The Celtic Twilight, 1902
Art, daughter of Hope and Memory did stay with Yeats as he passed on to us the memories of the peasants of Ireland and the hopes of belief in the realm of the faerie. The Celtic Twilight gives the reader a glimpse into the minds and lives of the peasantry, the folks who lived simply and saw other realms that the more affluent and wealthy were far to busy to notice.
Reading Celtic Twilight is like spending evenings with William B. Yeats as he quietly and expressively relates tales told to him by the people of the lands he wandered through as a younger man full of the passion of mysticism and the people of his beloved Ireland. One can almost see him sitting relaxed in a large chair by the fireplace as he reflects on the people he spoke with and listened to. He brings forth those common folk back from the past and makes them alive and real again as he retells of their experiences and beliefs.
When he wrote of walking and talking with friends the reader is taken along and becomes a quiet observer of the past. Sitting in a chair by the fire, opposite Yeats and listening to him becomes a very clear vision when reading Celtic Twilight. This collection of lore and reminiscences from Ireland illuminates the everyday life of the peasantry and their belief in the mystic realms of faery.
Yeats also writes about a few experiences of his own. Late one night, walking home after dark with two friends, an odd thing happened that made him wonder if they had been taken to the threshold, between waking and sleeping, where beings from another realm seemed to be.
Yeats remembered some Donegal people had told him that two faeries visited them at their farm house and asked to spend the night with them - yet the faeries did not sleep, instead they spent the night tidying up the farmer's home. And he tells of the door to faery-land near Ben Bulben and how the door opens at night to let all manner of faery folk out.
Yeats first published The Celtic Twilight in 1893 then added a few chapters to it in 1902, which is the second expanded edition. The book closes with a poem, Into The Twilight, which gave to the Irish Literary Revival its nickname.
In 1892 Yeats wrote of himself, "The mystical life is the centre of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write." This is very evident in The Celtic Twilight.
William Butler Yeats, 1933
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I purchased my own copy of The Celtic Twilight from Amazon.com