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The Fiddler of Dooney Poem by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet. This post features The Fiddler of Dooney Poem by William Butler Yeats.

The Fiddler of Dooney Poem by William Butler Yeats was written in 1899. Immortalised in the poem, Dooney Rock is a small hill overlooking Lough Gill in County Sligo. The rock is located just outside Sligo itself. The prestigious instrumental competition held in Sligo and known at the Fiddler of Dooney Competition is also named after the poem.

Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The prize led to a significant increase in the sales of his books, as his publishers Macmillan sought to capitalise on the publicity. For the first time he had money, and he was able to repay not only his own debts, but those of his father.

The Fiddler of Dooney Poem by William Butler Yeats
The Fiddler of Dooney Poem by William Butler Yeats

The Fiddler of Dooney Poem

When I play on my fiddle in Dooney
Folk dance like a wave of the sea
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet
My brother in Moharabuiee

I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.

When we come at the end of time,
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle
And the merry love to dance:

And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With ‘Here is the fiddler of Dooney!’
And dance like a wave of the sea.

– William Butler Yeats

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