After an assessment of several elements in the poet's biography and intellectual growth, Mr Malins selects a small group of poems written between the 1890s and the 1930s. Crucial to the entire development of the poet and, much more significantly, to the resurgence of the Irish nation, were the events of Easter 1916 in Dublin. The political background of Irish nationalism is therefore given close attention, along with the history of the country and an explanation in some detail of its mythology, subjects which for the non-Irish reader may be sources of misunderstanding when they are used in the poetry. At the beginning of his career, Yeats was most familiar for his excursions into sagas, myths and legends of the ancient world, the Orient and, above everything else, the Celtic race. At the time, as an early reviewer wrote, Yeats's "special vice" was "indefiniteness". But later, as the result of living through a major change of feeling. Yeats revised his early work considerably and attained a mastery of symbol, tone and lyricism, all running together, notably above his earlier grasp.
Of the utmost importance here, in the "Great Period" is the 1928 volume, "The Tower", source of "Leda and the Swan" and many other most distinguished pieces.