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Did WB Yeats speak with an English accent?

TruthInTheNews

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I have been reviewing footage of several Anglo Irish families and I was struck by the fact the they all spoke with English accents. This includes older family members who, while they may have been educated in boarding school in England returned to Ireland soon after. This set me thinking about WB Yeats and other Anglo Irish literary luminaries.

Did Yeats speak with an English accent?
 


Alan Alda

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Yeats was a Blueshirt,nazi sympathizing ponce. Sad but true.
More a propagandist than a poet.
 
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mr. jings

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Whatever about his accent, his poetry delivery was atrocious. Christ, but he didn't half murder his poems.
 

Gin Soaked

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Now that I have listened to a few recordings I would say his accent is hard to place. He sounds more English in some recordings. Of course this may be a matter of perception because everyone hears differently.

PennSound: William Butler Yeats
Just listening to that now (on poetry, so to avoid intonation that may throw the accent)

He has a well spoken, but ery Irish accent. Very much of the time.
 

statsman

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I think I have answered my own question. The answer seems be no if this You Tube recording is authentic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2FT4_UUa4I
Whatever about his accent, his poetry delivery was atrocious. Christ, but he didn't half murder his poems.
I wouldn't judge his accent by his reading; he had a particular approach to 'chaunting' based, in part at least, on the the theories of Florence Farr. It's highly artificial and bloody hard to listen to.
 

Lúidín

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There was an accent affected for the wireless in the early days - not necessarily to be more posh but to enunciate clearly. Notice the rolled r which is not used in everyday speech.

The BBC voice of the period, often parodied today, was bizarre and 2RN and later Radio Eireann had their own Irish version which I think is influencing Yeats in that recording.

If you walk from Montrose to Cork, you would not be long on the road before you would no longer hear anyone with that accent peculiar to the national broadcaster today.
 

statsman

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There was an accent affected for the wireless in the early days - not necessarily to be more posh but to enunciate clearly. Notice the rolled r which is not used in everyday speech.

The BBC voice of the period, often parodied today, was bizarre and 2RN and later Radio Eireann had their own Irish version which I think is influencing Yeats in that recording.

If you walk from Montrose to Cork, you would not be long on the road before you would no longer hear anyone with that accent peculiar to the national broadcaster today.
Yeats established his reading voice in the 1890s, just a touch pre 2RN.
 

GDPR

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I remember reading an interview with an English actress who Samuel Beckett was directing in one of this plays and she said something to him about the intonation of his Irish accent having some effect on the way a sentence in the script was written. She said he was surprised that she thought he had an Irish accent. I'd imagine to an English person Yeats would have sounded very Irish.
 

eoghanacht

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He sounded like one of the Healy (Rae's) with a mouthful of marbles.
 

GDPR

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Well he may have sounded English to the Irish.

Muriel Spark tells a wonderful story of collecting Yeats from Kings Cross Station in London when she was Secretary of the Poetry Society.

"Are you the poet WB Yeats?" she asked when she met him at the gate.

"I YAM", he replied. :)
 

statsman

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Well he may have sounded English to the Irish.

Muriel Spark tells a wonderful story of collecting Yeats from Kings Cross Station in London when she was Secretary of the Poetry Society.

"Are you the poet WB Yeats?" she asked when she met him at the gate.

"I YAM", he replied. :)
Pound imitates Yeats reading the Peacock thus:

made a great peeeeeeeeacock
in the proide of his oyyee
proide ov his oy-ee.
 

GDPR

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Pound imitates Yeats reading the Peacock this:

Yeats always struck me as being heavily influenced by the Dion Boucicault school of
heavy ee-mot-ing. declamatory styles have changed.

His accent was the old fashioned Anglo-irish - it sounds English to the Irish and Irish to the English.

TS Eliot is much more interesting - he really did change his accent.
 

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