photo William Yeats

W.B. Yeats Dyslexic Poet

Nobel Prize in Literature“Several of my uncles and aunts had tried to teach me to read, and because they could not, and because I was much older than children who read easily, had come to think, as I have learnt since, that I had not all my faculties.”- William Butler Yeats

Who would have guessed that William Butler Yeats would grow up to be on the foremost poets and writers of the 20th century and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature?


Here’s a great quote by Yeats:

“Education is not a filling of a bucket, but a lighting of a fire.”

Great writing depends not on early reading, an ability to remember the correct order of the alphabet, or how to remember how to keep the spellings of here and hear straight, but rather perceptivenessimageryhumorfeeling, and gifts of seeing analogies and for the musicality of words and phrases – all talents not uncommonly seen in dyslexics of all ages.

Sometimes these talents are referred to as visual thinking gifts – but some say visual is not exactly right – images, emotions, bodily feelings may be involved – rather than photographs that are called to mind. In some cases, the experience is described as cinematic – movement with a camera’s eyes, experiencing multisensory detail as a participant in a story much more than passive observer.

No wonder there are many gifted actors, actresses, and filmmakers found on lists of “Famous Dyslexics.”

Three Poems by Yeats:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree 

W. B. Yeats1865 – 1939
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

W. B. Yeats1865 – 1939
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

The Song of Wandering Aengus 

W. B. Yeats1865 – 1939
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

We’re in the process of setting up a site to collect information about the talents of dyslexic writers. If you’d like to take a peek it’s here:
Look for an award contest coming soon for Young Dyslexic Writers!