January 13, 2022

Fund for Irish Studies at Princeton University presents James Longenbach on W.B. Yeats on the Anniversary of Yeats’ Death

Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies presents a lecture by James Longenbach on W.B. Yeats and his poem “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” on Friday, January 28, the 83rd anniversary of Yeats’ death, at 4:30 p.m. via Zoom Webinar. Princeton’s Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities and Co-chair of the Fund for Irish Studies Paul Muldoon will provide a welcome and introduction. The event is part of the 2021-2022 lecture series, which will continue virtually for the next few events. The lecture is free and open to the public. View Zoom registration information

Longenbach will give an account of William Butler Yeats’ (1865-1939) poem, discussing how it assumed its shape, and, more importantly, the influence of that shape on subsequent long poems written throughout the 20th century. Yeats won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” was part of his first collection of poems published after the Nobel Prize: The Tower (1928). The Tower contains other long poems that contemplate the state of politics in Ireland during the Irish War of Independence, the mortality of man, and the temporariness of the world, such as “Sailing to Byzantium,” “Meditations in Time of Civil War,” and “The Tower.” Like many of the poems in the collection, “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” is divided into six parts of unequal length with differing meters and rhyme schemes in each part. Titled after and written about the first year of the Irish War of Independence, the poem grasps at the idealism and nostalgia for “law”, “habits”, and “public opinion” destroyed by war and violence.

james longenbach gazes straight at camera with dark shaggy hair

Poet James Longenbach. Photo Credit: Adam Fenster

Longenbach, a poet and literary critic who received his Ph.D. from Princeton University, is the Joseph Henry Gilmore Professor of English at the University of Rochester, where he teaches courses on modern and contemporary American poetry, British and American modernism, James Joyce, Shakespeare, and creative writing. His most recent poetry collections include Forever (W.W. Norton, 2021) and The Lyric Now (University of Chicago, 2020). Longenbach has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a Guggenheim Fellow and a Mellon Fellow.

Muldoon is the Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities at Princeton, as well as the founding chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. As an internationally renowned Irish poet, Muldoon has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as “the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War.” Muldoon won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for his ninth collection of poems, Poems 1968-1998 (2001). Additionally, Muldoon has won the 1994 T.S. Eliot Prize, the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry, the 2004 Shakespeare Prize, and the 2006 European Prize for Poetry, among others. His fourteenth volume of poems, Howdie-Skelp, was released in December 2021 by Farrar Straus & Giroux. Muldoon is editor of the recently released Paul McCartney boxed, two-volume set, The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, illuminating the stories behind 154 of McCartney’s song lyrics.

Muldoon co-chairs The Fund for Irish Studies with Fintan O’Toole, the Visiting Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Professor in Irish Letters. The Fund for Irish Studies affords all Princeton students, and the community at large, a wider and deeper sense of the languages, literatures, drama, visual arts, history, politics, and economics not only of Ireland but of “Ireland in the world.” The lecture series is co-produced by the Lewis Center for the Arts.

Information about the Fund for Irish Studies lecture series events can be found at The series will continue virtually through February 11 with the hope that events can resume in-person by March. Upcoming events include:

  • The Robert Fagles Memorial Lecture delivered by Fintan O’Toole on February 11
  • Journalist Susan McKay on March 18
  • Novelist Danielle McLaughlin on April 8

The Fund for Irish Studies is generously sponsored by the Durkin Family Trust and the James J. Kerrigan, Jr. ’45 and Margaret M. Kerrigan Fund for Irish Studies.

The lecture will be live captioned. Viewers in need of other access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at least one week in advance at

To learn more about the more than 100 public performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, lectures and special events, most of them free, presented each year by the Lewis Center for the Arts, visit

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