The earliest edition of the poem Easter, 1916 is one of the rarest of W.B. Yeats’s publications. Published privately by Clement Shorter in 1917, the copy on display is the fourth of only 25 copies produced, and is inscribed by Shorter on ‘August 17, 1917.’ Clement Shorter was the husband of poet Dora Sigerson, daughter of UCD Professor George Sigerson.
Yeats’s poem Easter, 1916 was not available for wider readership until the later, slightly revised version appeared in The New Statesman in October 1920. Also on view in this Exhibition are two letters written by W.B. Yeats, including one written to a journalist expressing surprise that he knew of the publication of the privately-circulated Easter,1916.
The exhibition is made possible through a major donation of W.B. Yeats materials (including the very rare Easter, 1916) by Joseph M. Hassett, given in honour of the late Professor Gus Martin. UCD Library also wishes to acknowledge the deposit by the American Ireland Fund of this and other valuable Yeats material.
As curator of the exhibition, Joseph Hassett has prepared a narrative that explores the many and varied reasons why Yeats delayed publication of his now iconic poem. He concludes, “The Clement Shorter Easter, 1916 captures Yeats’s state of mind in the wake of the executions. He is reluctant to start the process by which his poem’s reception will transmute the historical fact of those deaths into the myth of a terrible beauty by which ‘all changed, changed utterly’”.
Joseph M. Hassett is a graduate of Harvard Law School and holds a PhD in Anglo-Irish Literature from UCD. He practices law in Washington, D.C. and writes and lectures extensively on literary subjects.
This exhibition is located in the UCD James Joyce Library, and is open for public viewing from Monday to Friday.