The most important event in Yeats’s early life was his meeting in 1885 with John O’Leary, the old Fenian leader who had recently returned to Ireland from political exile. O’Leary gave a direction to the young poet’s ambition by introducing him to nineteenth century Anglo-Irish literature and inspiring him to feel he had a vital role to play in its development. Yeats attended meetings of the ‘Young Ireland’ Society, of which O’Leary was President, where literary readings were given and Irish matters passionately debated. Years later he declared: ‘From these debates, from O’Leary’s conversation, and from the Irish books he lent or gave me has come all that I have set my hand to since’.1
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- 32.Thomas Parkinson, W. B. Yeats: Self-Critic (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1951), 1973.Google Scholar