The present work was painted circa 1884, by which time the artist, struggling to make ends meet in London, had returned to Dublin with his family. The move was to be decisive in shaping the young W. B. Yeats' future, discovering the three interests that were to dominate his life: poetry, mysticism and Ireland. JBY had taken a studio at York Street, off St Stephen's Green, which quickly became a centre of art and philosophy in Dublin. It was from here that one morning he told the sixteen-year old Willy to walk down Harcourt Street and enroll at the Erasmus Smith High School, where he made a lasting impression: 'a white blackbird, a genius among the commonplace' as Katharine Tynan, a school friend, recollected (quoted in Murphy, The Prodigal Father, 1978, p.129). The present work depicts the bustling scene on Harcourt Street, and perhaps even an Erasmus student seen reading in the background.