The Wanderings of Oisin

Ranked #3 on the list Best Poem of All Time

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About The Wanderings of Oisin

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The Wanderings of Oisin ( /oʊˈʃiːn/ oh-SHEEN) is an epic poem published by William Butler Yeats in 1889 in the book The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems. It was his first publication outside of magazines, and immediately won him a reputation as a significant poet. This narrative poem takes the form of a dialogue between the aged Irish hero Oisín and St. Patrick, the man traditionally responsible for converting Ireland to Christianity. Most of the poem is spoken by Oisin, relating his three-hundred year sojourn in the isles of Faerie. Oisin has not been a popular poem with critics influenced by modernism, who dislike its pre-Raphaelite character. However, Harold Bloom defended this poem in his book-length study of Yeats, and concludes that it deserves reconsideration. The fairy princess Niamh fell in love with Oisin's poetry and begged him to join her in the immortal islands. For a hundred years he lived as one of the Sidhe, hunting, dancing, and feasting. At the end of this time he found a spear washed up on the shore and grew sad, remembering his times with the Fenians. Niamh took him away to another island, where the ancient and abandoned castle of the sea-god Manannan stood.

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