W. B. Yeats believed that lyrics can ‘take on a second beauty, passing as it were out of literature and becoming life’. By focusing on Yeats’s most memorable lines of poetry, Joseph Hassett reveals new ways of enjoying a body of work that speaks to the twenty-first century. For example, ‘The Stare’s Nest by my Window’ is informed by the circumstances in which it was written. Locked in his tower amid the violence and uncertainty of civil war, Yeats felt ‘an overmastering desire not to grow unhappy or embittered, not to lose all sense of the beauty of nature’. Finding the perfect metaphor for a necessary balm, he spotted an empty bird’s nest and ‘began to smell honey in places where honey could not be’. The poem’s plea – ‘O honey-bees, / Come build in the empty house of the stare’ – addresses readers in any state of physical or emotional isolation. This book is an enriching companion to the work of one of the world’s great poets. Its iconography – portraits, photographs, book designs, manuscript letters – illuminates the poems and the life. Its continuing dialogue with writers past and present, from Joyce to Beckett, Heaney and others, offers up an enduring harvest of wisdom for our age.