BOOK: Under The Metal Man – Sligo in Yeats

 by Joseph M. Hassett | Lilliput Press

This handsome volume presents more than twenty images of book covers, poems and other works that reflect Sligo’s presence in the work of W.B. Yeats and his family. Thoughtful reflections accompany the images, many of which are of first editions found in the ‘Yeats in Sligo’ collection at the Yeats Society. They invite us to experience Yeats’s poetry as he wanted contemporary readers to receive it.

The beautiful Cuala Press editions in the Sligo collection are themselves works of art created by W.B.’s sister Elizabeth Yeats. Images of such precious artefacts found in this book are part of what Henry James called ‘the visitable past’ – a realm containing ‘the fragrance of … the poetry of the thing outlived and yet in which the precious element of closeness, telling so of connections but tasting so of differences, remains appreciable’.

The title of this book is a composite. The first element is the name of the poem in which Yeats declares that he lies ‘Under Ben Bulben’ in Drumcliffe churchyard. The second is ‘The Metal Man’, 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 small gem of a book will have a reach far beyond Sligo as an illuminating companion and delightful gift to all readers of Irish poetry. The launch will be on 13 June at 6pm in the Yeats Building in Sligo, Ireland.

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

‘Joseph Hassett’s subtle insights into Yeats’s imagination and life are once more underlined by this beautiful little book, poignantly showing how many “Images that yet / Fresh images beget” derive from Sligo, and return there. A treasure.’ ROY FOSTER

‘This book is a Cabinet of Curiosities. Open it and be transported to the creative heart of the Yeats family and to the soul of Sligo, the two commingled to powerful and bountiful effect.’ PAULA MEEHAN

‘With his customary lucid grace and style, Hassett pilots us with ease and informed authority through the deep channel that runs between the Sligo that made Yeats, and the Sligo that Yeats made. Under the Metal Man offers a treasure trove of insights and discoveries.’ THEO DORGAN