Spring 2001 • Vol. XXIII No. 2 Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Celebration of the Nobel PrizesApril 1, 2001 |

W. B. Yeats

When awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923, W. B. Yeats, the Irish poet, playwright, essayist, mystic, and cultural activist, spoke from notes, but on his return to Ireland he wrote up the speech as best he could remember and added a meditation in fifteen short sections on "The Bounty of Sweden," based on a journal he had kept during the visit. In his Nobel address Yeats chose to speak on "The Irish Dramatic Movement" so that "I may commend all those workers, obscure or well known, to whom I owe much of whatever fame in the world I may possess" (Autobiographies 552). At the end of the speech Yeats very movingly evokes "a young man's ghost" that "should have stood upon one side of me" and on the other "a living woman sinking into the infirmity of old age" (571); he then names John Millington Synge and Lady Augusta Gregory. Yeats's wonderful ability to mythologise friends, family, and others he admired, to make them seem larger than life, has often been remarked on in literar

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