To put Song of the Old Mother into context you will need to know a little about the author - an Irish writer of the late 19th and early 20th century.
William Butler Yeats was born in Ireland in 1865. His father and brother were famous painters, but Yeats chose to concentrate on literature, composing poetry, editing the poems of others (including William Blake) and writing plays.
He was fascinated by the history and culture of Ireland, particularly its folklore, and went on to become involved in Irish politics - he was a nationalist and wanted Ireland to be self-governing.
This poem was written in 1899, so is one of his earlier poems. It reflects his interest in the Irish peasantry.
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