This is not a love story: W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne

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W.B. Yeats is one of the greatest poets in the history of ever. I’ve only had the displeasure of meeting one person who doesn’t like Yeats and that guy is, in fact, an idiot. But what a lot of people don’t know is that some of Yeats’ greatest poems were inspired by a woman named Maud Gonne, and she… well. It seems she really didn’t return the sentiment.

Yeats and Gonne met when they were both in their early twenties and the romance (or lack thereof) lasted for almost the rest of their lives. She was an Irish revolutionary, and he was completely enamored with her, to the point of obsession. She was his Muse, really; references to her are rife within the poet’s embodied works. Yeats proposed to her four times throughout their lives… and each time she said no.

Depressing, right? Yeats is pretty much the poster child for unrequited love. By most accounts they were good friends and she was fond of him- she just didn’t want to marry him.

Things get a little weird after that. Yeats, in his fifties, decided that he really needed to get married and pass on the legacy of his poetic genes before he died. It was then that he decided to propose to Gonne’s daughter, who was in her twenties and who he had known all her life. Creepy, right? I guess he figured if he couldn’t get her mom he could get the next best thing (there’s a joke I can make about Twilight and werewolves and weird vampire babies here, but I will abstain). Luckily, she refused, and Yeats eventually married a nice woman named Georgie, with whom he shared a happy marriage with even though she was his dream girl.

My friend, who loves Yeats, told me once that he “is good with words, not women.” I think that sums it up quite nicely.

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2 Comments

Filed under Dating, Literature, love, Poems, Poetry, relationships

2 responses to “This is not a love story: W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne

  1. I had no idea! That’s sad and a little creepy (and a similar joke may have popped into my mind).

  2. He and Emily Dickinson would have a lot to commiserate about….

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