Though born in mid-nineteenth century Dublin, William Butler Yeats was raised by his well-to-do family in London and Connaught in the west of Ireland. He returned to Dublin in his later teens and became part of the Celtic Revival, which sought to break free of the cultural influences imposed upon the Irish along with English rule. This fascination with native mythology, folklore, mysticism and the occult remained a powerful force in his writing throughout his life.
Ironically the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923 was primarily on the basis of his stage works, hardly ever performed now, but he is mainly remembered today for his poems, the best of which were mostly written later. This much-loved piece is one of the exceptions. It was published in the 1899 collection The Wind among the Reeds and has twice been voted among Britain’s top ten.
Because of its popularity, I had had in mind to illustrate He wishes for the cloths of heaven for some time, but it took many attempts to capture just the right skyscape. It would make an unusual, stylish and therefore classy Valentine’s Day card.