Friday, May 09, 2008

Poetry Cornered

William Butler Yeats
  • In a fit of facetiousness, I chose as my sister's thesis title a line from Yeats' dirge, September 1913 (Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, it's with O'Leary in the grave). As it happens, Yeats was an alumni of the same institution (then The Metropolitan School of Art, now the National College of Art and Design).
  • When I was a kid I had a map of Ireland complete with portraits of her literary heroes. Most of them were ancient and beardy looking (I had not, at that stage, developed my preference for hirsute men) but Wilde and Yeats looked young and presentable, so I used imagine them as my boyfriends (there were no teen magazines or pop idols in our house).
  • His brother Jack was an expressionist painter, and a very fine one at that. Were I the boys' mother, he'd definitely have been my favourite.
  • Apparently William was big into mysticism and the occult. WH Auden criticized this aspect of Yeats' work as the "deplorable spectacle of a grown man occupied with the mumbo-jumbo of magic and the nonsense of India." I copy and pasted that from Wikipedia, so it must be true.
  • All of his Irish mysticism stuff bores and annoys me in equal measure - I find it pretentious and very difficult to identify with. I imagine he would probably find me pretentious and very difficult to identify with.
  • He is somewhat of a posterboy for unrequited love - having followed Maud Gonne around like a lost puppy for 19 years he finally bedded her in 1908. Whatever he did that night, he made quite an impression: By January 1909, Gonne was sending Yeats letters praising the advantage given to artists who abstain from sex. She must have made a more favourable impression on him, however, as he proposed again to her (proposal #346, I think) and also proposed to her pubescent daughter. He was still rattling on about their one-nighter in A Man Young And Old almost 20 years later (which must have pleased his young wife George no end).
Blame Annie and Tim.

19 comments:

red said...

I'll blame the hormones for your slip at the start of #2 shall I?

I'm rereading a Yeats anthology at the moment oddly enough and really enjoying it.
Have a geat weekend young one.

Billy said...

When I last went to Dublin, I went to the Irish Writers' Museum. Almost without exception they all went and lived abroad.

Except ol' WB.

Rosie said...

thank you, and the same to your good self, Red. re #2, blame a childhood bereft of popular culture references instead of hormones (as my hormones are still getting me into trouble on a regular basis).

good man Billy! i didn't think tourists were allowed to venture north of the Liffey. as for Yeats not having the good grace to fuck off overseas and stop writing trite poems, i reckon he was too busy mooning over Maud and her daughter Iseult (ew).

Annie said...

Re: Maud 'praising the advantage given to artists who abstain from sex' - tee hee!

Maud must have been hot stuff.

You did good on the meme. People keep tagging me, so I thought I'd pass the pain on to someone young and bright-eyed. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that Yeats was never in a pub until he was in his thirties. Then he went into one with a friend - I think it was Ryans in Parkgate street. He drank a glass of SHERRY told the friend he has seen enough and left. Bit precious I think.

Jayne said...

Yeats. Meh.

Too knackered to say anything else.

backpedalbrakes said...

"When I had a kid"?

Is there something you're not telling us Rosie?

Rosie said...

oops. meant "was a kid", obviously. fixed now...

Rosie said...

and have just now realised that that's the slip that Red was referring to. be specific, lady! too much stress, work and study this week has turned my brain to jelly.

Anonymous, had you a blog of your own i'd be passing this MEME on - that comment is precious.

Rua said...

I hated Yeats in school, he always seemed like such a pussy-even for a poet! Same with Hopkins and Wordsworth, wafty wafflers, giz a bit of Ogdon Nash any day

Anonymous said...

Walt Whitman is the one for me:
"Camerado, I give you my hand
I give you my love, more precious than money
I give you myself before preaching and law
Will you give me yourself
Will you come travel with me
Will we stick by each other as long as we live?"
Thats from "Song of the open road" and its my favourite piece of poetry.

Rosie said...

ah, Ogden Nash...

There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant;
A yellow, a mellow Martini;
I wish I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,
Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth-
-I think that perhaps it's the gin.

Rosie said...

i'm not familiar with Whitman, nice sentiment in that quote though.

emordino said...

I'm now imagining you, Wilde and Yeats in this poster.

Rosie said...

hilarious. if only i could photoshop.

red said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rua said...

the cow is of a bovine ilk
one end moo, the other, milk!

Up your innisfree! case rested

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