When Robert Frost (A not very likable fellow, when you read his biographies, despite his excellent poetry.) visited Yeats in Ireland, he made a comment to the effect that, "It's no wonder he believes in faeries." He was responding to the beautiful, mystical Irish landscape Yeats grew up in. This book, even though you're (probably) not in Ireland when you read it, will have you responding much as Frost did. The peasantry have so much of their pagan ancestry in their blood that, despite their ostensible Catholicism, their deep belief in "the little people" comes out as strong as ever when questioned about it. Reading these anecdotes, some of them grafted directly onto Yeats' early poetry, gives them a power they would not have had you not read this book and realized how "here and now" faeryland was to the common people at the time. The Celtic belief that death (into Faeryland)is far more desirable than birth is made beautifully apparent in this book. Hence, by the way, the celebratory Irish wake. Hence also this lovely poem
Heardst thou not sweet words among That Heaven-resounding minstrelsy? Heardst thou not that those who die Awake in a world of ecstacy? That love, when limbs are interwoven, And sleep when the night of life is cloven, And thought, to the world's dim boudaries clinging, And music, when one beloved is singing, Is death?
These sorts of things, as well as Yeats' poetry, are worth deep consideration in this present world where medicine is deemed omnipotent...and yet, nevertheless, we all die.