Poem of the Week S01 E38 : Easter 1916 by WB Yeats, read by Ray Kennedy

Without question, one of Ireland’s most famous poems by arguably our greatest ever poet. I was delighted to be joined in studio by the recently departed Ray Kennedy, a long-time servant of Near FM, a brilliant Dj and a wonderful man. Together we discussed the complex legacy Yeats left to the Irish people, a legacy which this poem encapsulates so well.
A few years before this poem appeared, Yeats had scorned the likes of Pearse and Clarke in his poem September 1913 with the infamous line “…romantic Ireland’s dead and gone…”, amongst other jibes. But in Easter 1916, he immortalises the leaders and the events of Easter week, adding a new dimension to the poliics of Yeats for historian and citizen alike to study.
If for nothing else, Easter 1916 is truly remarkable not for what Yeats says but for the way he says it. He is a master craftsman. For example, the date itself – Easter Monday, 1916 – is enshrined within the very shape of the poem on the page: the poem’s four stanzas contain either sixteen or twenty-four lines – 24.4.16.

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Poem of the Week invites you to listen to contributors recite some of their favorite poems and talk about what these poems mean to them. Presented by Morgan O’Reilly, this podcast series, originally broadcast on Near FM 2017/18, features some of Ireland’s most exciting new voices such as Jessica Traynor, Kate Dempsey, Kenneth Nolan and Alan Jude Moore alongside local people and community activists from the North Dublin area, this series offers a unique and diverse range of contributors.