"Because I am mad about women..."

William Butler Yeats

The Wild Old Wicked Man

Jazz great Wynton Marsalis lists William Butler Yeats as his favorite poet. He says, "Like all the greatest artists, Yeats never got locked into one time. Instead, he addresses all ages and times. In a few words, with intense lyricism like Lester Young's or Miles Davis's, Yeats captures how one thing leads to another thing leads to another thing, and the relationships between them. Like, 'An aged man is but a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick.' If you really let that into your mind, it'll be a long time before you stop thinking about it." W. B. Yeats was an Irish writer (1865-1939) who figured prominently in 20th century literature. In 1923 he received the Nobel Prize in Literature; although he is believed by many to have written his best work later. "The Wild Old Wicked Man" was written in 1938, the year before Yeats died.


William Butler Yeats, "The Wild Wicked Old Man" from The Poems of W. B. Yeats: A New Edition, edited by Richard J. Finneran. Used by permission of A. P. Watt, Lt. on behalf of GrĂ¡inne Yeats.

To read this and other poems by William Butler Yeats, as well as biographical information about the poet, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.