The essay, “My Grandfather” is an extract from Yeats’ autobiography “Reveries Over Childhood and Youth”. He recollects his memories of his maternal grandfather, William Pollexfen, during a visit to his mother’s family in Sligo where he often spent his summer vacations as a schoolboy.
Childhood of Y. B. Yeats
Remembering his childhood, the writer recalls sitting upon somebody’s knee looking out of the window. He often sat on the ground looking at a toy boat. The misery of his childhood was because of loneliness and fear of his grandfather. It was caused by his own mind. He often prayed for death and when he feared that he was dying, he prayed for life, he often thought that he was wicked.
His grandfather belonged to an old Cornish family. He was in the Army. After retirement, he became an owner of ships. His grandmother was a Wexford woman. His family had been linked with Ireland for generations. His grandfather had no relation because he was the only child of his parents. That is why he was solitary, silent, and had few friends. Nobody was unkind to the writer. His grandfather never spoke harshly to him. Even then he feared him. He often confused him with God and prayed that he might punish him for his sins. Even his grandmother was afraid of him. Once he won freedom for some Spanish city, but he was so silent that he did not mention it to his wife till he was eighty.
Also, his grandfather had great physical strength. He had the reputation of never ordering a man to do anything he would not do himself. He was of violent temper. He always kept a hatchet against burglars instead of going to law. He would knock a man down. He lacked suspicion. Sometimes when he felt helpless, the writer felt affection for him. While a boy, he had run away to sea. He was very fond of reading. His favorite books were The Bible and Falconer’s Shipwreck. He had a great sense of pride and disliked his neighbors. While reading King Lear today, the writer has the image of his grandfather before him.
The writer’s grandmother was gentle and patient. She did many charities in her neighborhood. She was a true lover of her garden. She copied her favorite flowers on rice paper. She was also fond of handiwork. He remembers the delicacy of her handiwork. He also remembers some Chinese paintings and colored prints of battles in the Crimea upon a wall. He remembers her punishing him once.
Other relations of writer
The author was always afraid of his maternal uncles and aunts. His youngest uncle was stout and humorous, and a favorite of his grandmother. Once he sent the writer, when he was seven or eight, to a cousin living six miles away to fetch a railway pass. The writer rode in the moonlight and returned at three in the morning with the pass. The essay shows the writer’s retentive memory, his keen power of observation, and his attachment to his maternal relatives.
Often, people also ask questions about the poems of W. B. Yeats. Some of these questions are as follows: Which poems carry the political thoughts of Yeats? What is Yeats’s most famous poem? What is the poem politics about? Was Yeats a Republican? You can find the answers to these questions by reading the articles related to W. B. Yeats.