Maud Gonne MacBride (Irish: Maud Nic Ghoinn Bean Mhic Giolla Bhríde, 21 December 1866 – 27 April 1953) was an English-born Irish revolutionary, feminist and actress, best remembered for her turbulent relationship with William Butler Yeats. Of Anglo-Irish stock and birth, she was won over to Irish nationalism by the plight of evicted people in the Land Wars. She was also active in Home Rule activities.
Many of Yeats’s poems are inspired by her, or mention her, such as ‘This, This Rude Knocking.’ He wrote the plays The Countess Cathleen and Cathleen Ní Houlihan for her. His poem Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven ends with a reference to her:
I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Few poets have celebrated a woman’s beauty to the extent Yeats did in his lyric verse about Gonne. From his second book to Last Poems, she became the Rose, Helen of Troy (in No Second Troy), the Ledaean Body (Leda and the Swan and Among School Children), Cathleen Ní Houlihan, Pallas Athene and Deirdre.