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some and so exasperating, is not the Quiet in its cleft broods—what the after kind of brain to produce permanent poetry.
Knows and names a pine, a nation's heri. “A peasant was in the dock for a tage. violent assault. The clerk read the indictment with all its legal jargon. People who never grow up may The prisoner to the warder: "What's have a certain kind of fascination, all that he says?” Warder: “He but they will not write great poetry. says ye hit Pat Curry with yer spade It is exactly the other way with creaon the side of his head.” Prisoner: tive artists; they grow up faster than “Bedad an' I did.” Warder: “Then the average. The maturity of Keats plade not guilty.” This dialogue, is astonishing. Now I believe that loud and in the full hearing of the in the last forty years Ireland has court.
really begun to grow up. The fan“Read Wordsworth's two poems tastic, happy-go-lucky Irishman is on Burns; kind, merciful, steady, becoming as rare in real life as he is glowing, manly they are, with some on the stage. Spirituality has taken strong phrases, good lines, and hu- the place of frivolity. Mr. Yeats’s man feeling all through, winding wonderful lamentation, September up in two stanzas at the close. These 1913, that sounds like the wailing are among the pieces that make of the wind, actually gives us a reaWordsworth a poet to live with; he son why Irishmen are getting the atrepairs the daily wear and tear, puts tention of the world in poetry, as back what the fret of the day has well as in fiction and drama. rubbed thin or rubbed off, sends us forth in the morning whole.”
What need you, being come to sense, Robert Browning, whose normality
But fumble in a greasy till in appearance and conversation
And add the halfpence to the pence pleased sensible folk and shocked
And prayer to shivering prayer, until idolaters, summed up in two stanzas
You have dried the marrow from the bone; the difference between the popular
For men were born to pray and save, conception of a poet and the real
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, truth. One might almost take the
It's with O'Leary in the grave. first stanza as representing the Irish, and the second the English tempera
Yet they were of a different kind. ment.
The names that stilled your childish play “Touch him ne'er so lightly, into song he
They have gone about the world like broke:
But little time had they to pray Soil so quick-receptive,-not one feather
For whom the hangman's rope was spun, seed, Not one flower-dust fell but straight its
And what, God help us, could they save; fall awoke
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, Vitalising virtue: song would song succeed
It's with O'Leary in the grave..
Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide; Rock's the song-soil rather, surface hard for this that all that blood was shed, and bare:
For this Edward Fitzgerald died, Sun and dew their mildness, storm and And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone, frost their rage
All that delirium of the brave; Vainly both expend,--few flowers awaken Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, there:
It's with O'Leary in the grave.
Yet could we turn the years again,
propaganda, a merely elementary And call those exiles as they were, conception of the principle of diviIn all their loneliness and pain
sion of labour should make us all reYou'd cry "some woman's yellow hair joice when the artist confines him. Has maddened every mother's son:” self to art. True artists are scarce They weighed so lightly what they gave, and precious; and although practical But let them be, they're dead and gone, men of business often regard them They're with O'Leary in the grave.
as superfluous luxuries, the truth is
that we cannot live without them. William Butler Yeats has done As poet and dramatist, Mr. Yeats has more for English poetry than any done more for his country than he other Irishman, for he is the great could have accomplished in any other est poet in the English language that way. Ireland has ever produced. He is a Never was there more exclusively notable figure in contemporary liter an artist. He writes pure, not apature, having made additions to plied poetry. I care little for his verse, prose and stage-plays. He theories of symbolism, magic and has by no means obliterated Clarence what not. Poets are judged not by Mangan, but he has surpassed him. their theories, not by the “schools”
Mr. Yeats was born at Dublin, June to which they give passionate adher13, 1865. His father was an honour ence, but simply and solely by the man at Trinity College, taking the quality of their work. No amount of highest distinction in Political Econ theory, no correctness of method, no omy. After practising law, he be setting up of new or defence of old came a painter, which profession standards, no elevated ideals can he still adorns. The future poet stud make a poet if he have not the divine ied art for three years, but when gift. Theories have hardly more ef. twenty-one years old definitely de fect on the actual value of his poetry voted himself to literature. Apart than the colour of the ink in which from his original work, one of his he writes. The reason why it is inforemost services to humanity was teresting to read what Mr. Yeats says his advice to that strange genius, about his love of magic and of symJohn Synge-for it was owing to the bols is not because there is any truth influence of his friend that Synge be or falsehood in these will-o'-the-wisps, came a creative writer, and he had, but because he is such an artist that alas! little time to lose.
even when he writes in prose, his Mr. Yeats published his first poem style is so beautiful, so harmonious in 1886. Since that date, despite his that one is forced to listen. Literary preoccupation with the management art has enormous power in propelling of the Abbey Theatre, he has pro a projectile of thought. I do not duced a long list of works in verse doubt that the chief reason for the and prose, decidedly unequal in immense effect of such a philosophy merit, but shining with the light of as that of Schopenhauer or that of a luminous mind.
Nietzsche is because each man was From the first, Mr. Yeats has
a literary artist-indeed I think both seemed to realise that he could serve were greater writers than thinkers. Ireland best by making beautiful and A good thing this is for their fame, enduring works of art, rather than for art lasts longer than thought. by any form of political agitation. The fashion of a man's thought may This is well; for despite the fact pass away; his knowledge and his that a total ineptitude for statesman ideas may lose their stamp, either ship seldom prevents the enthusiast because they prove to be false or from issuing and spreading dogmatic because they become universally
current. Everybody believes Coper Fasten your hair with a golden pin, nicus, but nobody reads him. Yet And bind up every wandering tress; when a book, no matter how obso I bade my heart build these poor rhymes: lete in thought, is marked by great
It worked at them, day out, day in, beauty of style, it lives forever. Building a sorrowful loveliness Consider the case of Sir Thomas Out of the battles of old times. Browne. Art is the great preservative.
You need but lift a pearl-pale hand, Mr. Yeats has a genius for names
And bind up your long hair and sigh; and titles. His names, like those of
And all men's hearts must burn and beat; Rossetti's, are sweet symphonies.
And candle-like foam on the dim sand, The Wind Among the Reeds, The
And stars climbing the dew-dropping sky, Shadowy Waters, The Secret Rose,
Live but to light your passing feet. The Land of Heart's Desire, The
A still more characteristic love. Island of Statues are poems in themselves, and give separate pleasure
poem is the one which gleams with like an overture without the opera.
the symbols of the cloths of heaven. Perhaps it is not too fanciful to ob
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, serve that The Wind Among the
Enwrought with golden and silver light, Reeds suggests better than any other
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths arrangement of words the lovely
Of night and light and the halflight, minor melodies of our poet, while
I would spread the cloths under your feet; The Shadowy Waters gives exactly But I, being poor, have only my dreams; the picture that comes into one's
I have spread my dreams under your feet; mind in thinking of his poems. There
Tread softly because you tread on my is an extraordinary fluidity in his
dreams. verse, like running water under the shade of overhanging branches. One In mysticism, in symbolism, and in feels that Mr. Yeats loves these titles, the quality of his imagination, Mr. and chooses them with affectionate Yeats of course reminds us of Maesolicitude, like a father naming beau. terlinck. He has the same twilit attiful children.
peopled with elusive The love poetry of Mr. Yeats, like dream-footed figures, that make no the love poetry of Poe, is swept with more noise than the wings of an owl. passion, but the passion is mingled He is of imagination all compact. with unutterable reverence. It is un- He is neither teacher like much modern love poetry in its prophet; he seems to turn away from spiritual exaltation. Just as manners the real sorrows of life, yes, even have become more free, and intima from its real joys, to dwell in a world cies that once took months to de of his own creation. He invites us velop, now need only minutes, so thither, if we care to go; and if we much contemporary verse-tribute to go not, we cannot understand either women is so detailed, so bold, so his art or his ideas. But if we wancock-sure, that the elaborate compli der with him in the shadowy darkments only half-conceal a sneer. In ness, like the lonely man in Titanic all such work love is born of desire alleys accompanied only by Psyche, its sole foundation and hence is we shall see strange visions. We may equally short-lived and fleeting. In be led to the door of a legended the poems of Mr. Yeats, desire seems tomb; we may be led along the borto follow rather than to precede love. der of dim waters; but we shall live Love thus takes on, as it ought to, for a time in the realm of Beauty, something of the beauty of holi and be the better for the experience, ness.
even though it resemble nothing
in the town and country that we creed: “Literature decays when it no know.
longer makes more beautiful, or Mr. Yeats, like Browning, writes more vivid, the language which both lyrical poems and dramas; but unites it to all life, and when one he is at the opposite remove from finds the criticism of the student, Browning in everything except the and the purpose of the reformer, gift of song. Browning was so de and the logic of the man of science, voted to the dramatic aspect of art, where there should have been the that he carried the drama even into reveries of the common heart, enits seemingly contradictory form, the nobled into some raving Lear or unlyric. Every lyric is a little one-act abashed Don Quixote. . . . I have play, and he called them dramatic been reading through a bundle of lyrics. Mr. Yeats, on the other hand, German plays, and have found everyis so essentially a lyric poet, that where a desire not to express hopes instead of writing dramatic lyrics, and alarms common to every man he writes lyric dramas. Even his that ever came into the world, but stage-plays are primarily lyrical. politics or social passion, a veiled or Those who are interested in Mr.
If Homer Yeats's theory of speaking, reciting, were alive to-day, he would only reor chanting poetry to the psaltery sist, after a deliberate struggle, the should read his book, Ideas of Good temptation to find his subject not in and Evil, which contains some of his Helen's beauty, that every man has most significant articles of faith, desired, nor in the wisdom and enwritten in limpid and beautiful durance of Odysseus that has been prose.
Mr. Yeats cannot write on the desire of every woman that has any subject without illuminating it come into the world, but in what by the light of his own imagination; somebody would describe, perhaps, and I find his essays in criticism full as 'the inevitable contest,' arising out of original thought-the result of of economic causes, between the years of brooding reflection. In these country-places and small towns on short pieces his genius is as clear as the one hand, and, upon the other, it is in his poems.
the great city of Troy, representing I admire his absolute devotion to one knows not what 'tendency to the art of poetry. He knows that centralisation.' politicians and practical” men at In other words, if I understand the very best regard him as a harm him correctly, Mr. Yeats believes less dreamer; for to them he seems that in writing pure rather than apto be talking in his sleep just when plied poetry, he is not turning his he ought to be wide awake. But back on great issues to do filigree more regard him as worse than
work, but is merely turning aside harmless, for they cannot understand from questions of temporary import how, in the midst of political ex. to that which is fixed and eternal, citement, he can calmly go on writ life itself. ing poems and lyrical dramas. But John Millington Synge was born he will not apologise. Nor will he near Dublin, April 16, 1871, and died use his poetic genius for any purpose
in Dublin, March 24, 1909. It is a except for the creation of beauty and curious thing that the three great the interpretation of life. He will Irishmen of the Celtic renaissancenot turn Pegasus into a dray-horse, the only men who were truly in. and make him haul cart-loads of
spired by genius-originally studied political or moral propaganda. In another form of art than literature. his fine apologia, The Cutting of an Mr. Yeats studied painting for years; Agate, he states and restates his A. E. is a painter of distinction;
Synge was an accomplished musician reached the summit of dramatic before he became a man of letters. achievement. There is not the slightest doubt that Synge was a terrible person, as the effect of these sister arts upon terrible in his way as Swift. When the literary work of the Great Three Carlyle saw Daniel Webster, he said, is pervasive and powerful. The “I should hate to be that man's nig. books of Mr. Yeats and Mr. Russell ger.” I do not envy any of the men are full of word-pictures; and the or women who, for whatever reason, rhythm of Synge's strange prose, incurred the wrath of Synge. He which Mr. Ernest Boyd ingeniously was never noisy or explosive, like a traces to Dr. Hyde's translations, is dog whose barks are discounted, to full of harmonies.
whom one soon ceases to pay any Dr. Hyde ought to be one of the attention; we all know the futile and happiest men in the world; he has petty irascibility of the shallownot only witnessed a new and won minded. Synge was like a mastiff derful literary revival in his country, who bites without warning. Irony but he has the satisfaction of know. was the common chord in his coming that he is vitally connected with position. He studied life and hated its birth and bloom.
death; hated the gossip of the Synge had the greatest mental en world, which seemed to him the gabdowment of all the Irish writers of ble of fools. Physically he was a his time. He had an amazingly pow. sick man, and felt his tether. He erful mind. At Trinity College he thought it frightful that he should took prizes in Hebrew and in Irish, have to die, while so many idiots and at the same time gained a lived long. He never forgave men scholarship in harmony and counter and women for their folly, and the point at the Royal Irish Academy of only reason why he did not forgive Music. As a boy, "he knew the note God was because he was not sure of and plumage of every bird, and His existence. The lady addressed when and where they were to be in the following “poem” must have found.” As a man, he could easily read it with queasy emotion, and have mastered the note of every without the slightest difficulty have human being, as in addition to his unwillingly learned it by heart. A knowledge of ancient languages, he photograph of her face immediately seems to have become proficient in after its perusal would look like fuGerman, French, and Italian with turist art. singular speed and ease. He was an excellent performer on the piano,
THE CURSE flute, and violin, did conjuring To a sister of an enemy of the author's who tricks, and delighted the natives of disapproved of “The Playboy." the Aran Islands with his penny
Lord, confound this surly sister, whistle. He must have had a posi
Blight her brow with blotch and blister, tive genius for concentration, ob
· Cramp her larynx, lung, and liver, taining a real command over anything to which he cared to devote his
In her guts a galling give her. attention. Mr. Yeats found him in Let her live to earn her dinners that ramshackle old Hôtel Corneille In Mountjoy with seedy sinners: in the Latin Quarter, busily writing Lord, this judgment quickly bring, literary criticism in French and Eng. And I'm your servant, John M. Synge. lish, and told him as an inspired messenger to go to the primitive folk (Mountjoy is a prison). in Ireland and become a creative Irish exaggeration is as often seen artist. He went; and in a few years in plenary curses as in plenary bless