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Book Title: Cathleen Ni Houlihan|
The author of the book: W.B. Yeats
Edition: Kessinger Publishing
Date of issue: December 1st 2005
ISBN 13: 9781425471835
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 586 KB
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Reader ratings: 3.8
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Cathleen ni Houlihan is a kind of miracle. It is not deep, it is not elevated by any great poetry, or made memorable by any vivid character or absorbing plot. Yet this one-act play, in its simple prose and folk-tale purity not only expresses ardently the nationalistic aspirations of the Irish people, but does so without the self-satisfied triumphalism which habitually blights such patriotic works.
Set in the days of the 1798 rebellion, when the French were about to land on the West Coast, the play takes place in the Gillane family cottage where preparations are underway for the wedding of their son Michael. Into this family setting comes a “poor old woman” who tells them how she has been deprived of her four beautiful green fields and is looking for brave young men to help her regain them. Little do the Gillanes know that this woman Cathleen ni Houlihan is the spirit of the Irish people, determined to reclaim the four provinces of Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. Her visit, however, has touched them all, and as the young men abandon the wedding to go fight for Ireland, we are told that the old woman has been transformed, that she is young and beautiful and walking like a queen.
Here are the last words the old woman utters before she leaves the Gillane cottage:
It is a hard service they take that help me. Many that are red-cheeked now will be pale-cheeked; many that have been free to walk the hills and the bogs and the rushes will be sent to walk hard streets in far countries; many a good plan will be broken; many that have gathered money will not stay to spend it; many a child will be born, and there will be no father at its christening to give it a name. They that had red cheeks will have pale cheeks for my sake; and for all that, they will think they are well paid.
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Read information about the authorWilliam Butler Yeats (pronounced /ˈjeɪts/) was an Irish poet and dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and along with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, serving as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." He was the first Irishman so honored. Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929).
Yeats was born and educated in Dublin but spent his childhood in County Sligo. He studied poetry in his youth, and from an early age was fascinated by both Irish legends and the occult. Those topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and those slow paced and lyrical poems display debts to Edmund Spenser and Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as to the Pre-Raphaelite poets. From 1900, Yeats' poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life.
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