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Lecture by Poet James Longenbach on W.B. Yeats

January 28, 2022 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

james longenbach with forward gaze, dark shaggy hair and black sweater
Photo by Adam Fenster

Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies presents a lecture by James Longenbach on W.B. Yeats and his poem “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” on Friday, January 28, the 83rd anniversary of Yeats’ death, at 4:30 p.m. via Zoom Webinar. Princeton’s Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities and Co-chair of the Fund for Irish Studies Paul Muldoon will provide a welcome and introduction. The event is part of the 2021-2022 lecture series, which will continue virtually for the next few events.

Longenbach will give an account of William Butler Yeats’ (1865-1939) poem, discussing how it assumed its shape, and, more importantly, the influence of that shape on subsequent long poems written throughout the 20th century. Yeats won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” was part of his first collection of poems published after the Nobel Prize: The Tower (1928). The Tower contains other long poems that contemplate the state of politics in Ireland during the Irish War of Independence, the mortality of man, and the temporariness of the world, such as “Sailing to Byzantium,” “Meditations in Time of Civil War,” and “The Tower.” Like many of the poems in the collection, “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” is divided into six parts of unequal length with differing meters and rhyme schemes in each part. Titled after and written about the first year of the Irish War of Independence, the poem grasps at the idealism and nostalgia for “law”, “habits”, and “public opinion” destroyed by war and violence.

Longenbach, a poet and literary critic who received his Ph.D. from Princeton University, is the Joseph Henry Gilmore Professor of English at the University of Rochester, where he teaches courses on modern and contemporary American poetry, British and American modernism, James Joyce, Shakespeare, and creative writing. His most recent poetry collections include Forever (W.W. Norton, 2021) and The Lyric Now (University of Chicago, 2020). Longenbach has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a Guggenheim Fellow and a Mellon Fellow.

Tickets & Details

Please note that this first event of the spring series will remain virtual via Zoom webinar.

The virtual lecture is free and open to the public; registration required. Register for the Zoom webinar

A recording will not be available to share with the public following the event.


The event includes live closed captions in English. Patrons can join the Webinar and connect to the captioned event through StreamText. Attendees in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at 609-258-5262 or email LewisCenter@princeton.edu at least one week in advance of the event date.


January 28, 2022
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
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Zoom Webinar