ACIS Logo Under the Metal Man: Yeats in Sligo

This book tells the story of Sligo’s presence in the work of W.B. Yeats and his family through images of their work and commentary that opens new ways of understanding Yeats’s poetry. It incorporates paintings and drawings by John Butler Yeats, Jack Yeats and Elizabeth Yeats, and a card on which Yeats wrote the line that links him to his Sligo grandfather.

Many of the images are of first editions donated to the Yeats Society Sligo. The rare Cuala Press books invite us to experience Yeats’s poems as he wanted them to be received by contemporary readers. They are themselves works of art created by W.B.’s sister Elizabeth. This book’s images of these artefacts are part of what Henry James called the “visitable past” – a realm “fragrant of … the poetry of the thing outlived … and yet in which the precious element of closeness, telling so of connexions but tasting so of differences, remains appreciable.”

The title of this book is a composite. The first element evokes the poem in which Yeats declares that he lies “Under Ben Bulben” in Drumcliffe churchyard. “The Metal Man” is a figure on a beacon that guides ships to and from Sligo, who came to embody the Yeats siblings’ memories of their childhood under his watchful eyes.

This highly readable and richly illustrated exploration of the family history behind the poems will have universal appeal as an illuminating companion to Yeats’s poetry.

Joseph M. Hassett has written extensively on Yeats, Joyce and other Irish writers. Earlier publications include Yeats Now: Echoing into Life (Lilliput, 2020), The Ulysses Trials: Beauty and Truth Meet the Law (Lilliput, 2016) and W.B. Yeats and the Muses (OUP, 2010).


Published on: May 8, 2024