W B YEATS, VAIN, GLORIOUS, LOUT. A MAKER OF MODERN IRELAND.
What voice more sweet than hers When, young and beautiful, She rode to harriers? This other man I had dreamed A drunken, vainglorious lout. He had done most bitter wrong To some who are near my heart, Yet I number him in the song; He, too, has resigned his part In the casual comedy; He, too, has been changed in his turn, Transformed utterly: A terrible beauty is born. Hearts with one purpose alone Through summer and winter seem Enchanted to a stone To trouble the living stream. Too long a sacrifice Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice? What is it but nightfall? No, no, not night but death; Was it needless death after all? For England may keep faith For all that is done and said. We know their dream; enough To know they dreamed and are dead; And what if excess of love Bewildered them till they died? His contemplation of these figures as individuals begins with Constance Markievicz, whom Yeats had known for more than 20 years. Of the men, first Patrick Pearse and then Thomas MacDonagh, Yeats is more tolerant: as poets, educators and leaders, their potential for greatness is acknowledged.
Two girls in silk kimonos, both Beautiful, one a gazelle. Pardoned, drags out lonely years Conspiring among the ignorant. I know not what the younger dreams— Some vague Utopia—and she seems. When withered old and skeleton-gaunt. An image of such politics. Many a time I think to seek One or the other out and speak Of that old Georgian mansion, mix Pictures of the mind, recall That table and the talk of youth.
ISBN 13: 9780952444725
And the second stanza takes this further, opening with a compassionate but despairing invocation to the ghosts of the dead girls, and ending with an enduringly mysterious image, which demands examination. Dear shadows, now you know it all. All the folly of a fight With a common wrong or right. The innocent and the beautiful Have no enemy but time; Arise and bid me strike a match And strike another till time catch; Should the conflagration climb.
Run till all the sages know. We the great gazebo built. They convicted us of guilt; Bid me strike a match and blow. But note the last couplet. However, I think it means something different. It is, therefore, another statement aligning himself with the forces of reaction against revolution. And I could quote, too, a letter he wrote to Olivia Shakespear at this time. If this is so, it is a distinctly uncomfortable thought, which would grow in his mind, and in his work—along with his preoccupation with the hatreds arising in contemporary Europe.
These pursue the same theme of glorifying the Irish Georgian Ascendancy. Ireland must, as ever, look to Europe, not to England. Georgian Dublin equalled Renaissance Urbino, in valuing style, intellect and aristocratic authority. He had been wintering in Rapallo in the late s, where his chief companion was Ezra Pound: the connection to fascism might seem easily made.
Nor, apparently, did he take much interest in what was happening in Italy around him, as poets like Montale found when they came on pilgrimages to him. This happened at a point when Yeats had severed his connection with them. But his unpublished correspondence shows that he was closely in touch with early supporters of the movement like Desmond Fitzgerald, Ernest Blythe and Dermott MacManus.
We have to take everything we legitimately can from our opponents. Perhaps even more from communism than fascism has taken. Significantly, these reflections were written at a time when he was rewriting A Vision , and contemplating the rise and fall of world systems through historical cycles. Yeats recorded one meeting:. De Valera has described himself to somebody as the autocrat expressing the feeling of the masses.
I urged also that unless a revolutionary crisis rose they must make no intervention. They should prepare themselves by study to act without hesitation should the crisis arise. This is not much different from the oligarchic and aristocratic ideals he had been drawn to all his life, and discovered in his idea of courtly Italian culture when he first visited the country in It has very little to do with what Mussolini stood for by They are set to the Irish tune. Here is fresh matter, poet, Matter for old age meet; Might of the Church and the State, Their mobs put under their feet. That were a cowardly song, Wander in dreams no more ; What if the Church and the State Are the mob that howls at the door!
Wine shall run thick to the end, Bread taste sour. It also crystallized his disillusionment with Irish politics. The rest I pass, one sentence I unsay. VP — What intellect, What calculation, number, measurement replied? We Irish, born into that ancient sect But thrown upon the filthy modern tide And by its formless spawning fury wrecked, Climb to our proper dark, that we may trace The lineaments of a plummet-measured face.
How ominous is this? In fact, he used his belief in eugenic control to argue against some of the social policies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. On some artistic levels, he had liberated himself just as his country ostensibly underwent the same process.
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His poems from the mid-thirties interrogate old age, the roots of inspiration, the artistic process, and the gnawing dissatisfactions of sex. If it had been left like that, it would be seen to reflect his thoughts on the contemporary Spanish Civil War, the Italian adventure in Abyssinia, and German rearmament. But Yeats rejected it, and wrote, very late in his life, the substitute ending which we know, bringing artistic inspiration and creativity back to the troubled self:.
Those masterful images because complete Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street, Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can, Old iron, old bones, that raving slut Who keeps the till. This had been the seedbed of his early nationalism, but now he plays it against the inadequacies of the new Irish order. Biographers always find a salient piece of evidence just after their book has gone to press, and I am no exception. She was struck by the intensity of antagonism there, and wrote in a private notebook:. I have often thought of a thing W.
Yeats said to me many years ago. This last was a silent question. It is also true that this could take on a disturbingly reactionary colour. Yeats, as his wife once remarked, had an extraordinary sense of how things would look to people afterwards; he spent much of his life constructing exactly how posterity should see things. Yeats made the territory all the more sensitive by thinking aloud on all the forbidden subjects: sex, religion, class, politics. After spending seventeen years writing his biography I remain astonished at his enduring relevance, his refusal to be taken for granted, and his superb disinclination to provide comfortable reassurance.
Further information may have been gathered since this article was prepared for publication. If you would like to find out if any further information has been discovered that may help your own research, why not write to the author at Roy. Foster hertford.
Yeats, W. B. | W. B. Yeats | Poetry
Quite apart from anything else, feedback is always welcomed. It seemed true in , but 1 did not foresee The late Dublin Rebellion, whatever one can say of its wisdom, will long be remembered for its heroism. He also pointed out that Ernest A. See also L — Special financing available. Any international shipping and import charges are paid in part to Pitney Bowes Inc.
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