A Famous Yeats ''Quote" is Not in His Works

By: Michael R. Blood, Associated Press Email
By: Michael R. Blood, Associated Press Email
A quote often attributed to poet William Butler Yeats does not appear in his published writing or letters.

William Butler Yeats as photographed by George Charles Beresford

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A quote often attributed to poet William Butler Yeats does not appear in his published writing or letters.

President Barack Obama and California Gov. Jerry Brown are among those who have credited the Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner with these words:

"Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire."

But there appears to be no evidence Yeats wrote it.

Professor Margaret Mills Harper of the University of Limerick in Ireland hunted for the line without success in a database of Yeats' published works, concordances to his poems and plays and the electronic version of his complete letters.

The White House did not respond to a query about the quotation's source. Brown's office pointed to online sources when asked about its accuracy.


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