William Butler Yeats, one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century, richly repays careful study, both for his remarkable evolution as a writer, and for his active role in shaping modern Irish history and culture. In his early work he sought to evoke an otherworldly Celtic realm of dreams and magic; in later writings he became a tough-minded modernist, intent on expressing and inspiring a national culture. We will read widely in Yeats’s poetry, less widely in his prose and works for theater; we will also study the major writers associated with the Irish literary revival he fostered, among them Lady Gregory, J.M. Synge, and Sean O’Casey. This course will be, in short, a deep dive into the most important Irish poet and his times.