I recently read a book on Yeats. The Yeats We Knew, which are the texts of five Thomas Davis Lectures, first broadcast on RTE in 1965, as part of the centenary celebrations of his birth. These short memoirs in this 100 page slim book, give the reader a glimpse of the man behind the mask. And the impression we are left with is, he was a lonely man. He made it his business to strike the poetical pose, and really i am just riffing now as my energies are gone somewhat.
After a brief flood and flash,
lead the evening dance to a goal
the verse king of Kilmainham, free
to sing, made reality a webbed light
of October mist withering in pale grey
cloud that dimmed to a soft cool
breeze, chilled as night drew in.
And the ghost of William Yeats said:
Did the words he write solve any wrongs
or slights his loved ones suffered
as they fled? And what cold bed
of mourning found the arch beneath
which i awoke, dawned on heather,
left in rann, a rambling man waffling on,
head sieved to a million bits
as instructors came, speaking
of this and that to him?
Of how silence persecutes
a void of knowing calm
in setting sun, as a brief flash of solitary
life leaves us, all and one, all alone,
the ghosts who sit on Yeats's throne
and count the hours before morning
in moon lit mists that wax on wrongs
we suffer when the cold grey gun
- pulled to shoot a dream that blew
a brothers head wide open -
makes a splash for cameramen
who catch the brain seeping
as critics tell you of us, jangling on
and on, calling for the glow to spot,
shine upon one mind alone?
An audience anonymity dressed,
freedom dead so we can sing
of our concealed sex, saying,
what of it?
Tell the mob to name
what isn't in the hat and then, after
that, to rhyme the hours we have took
and speak, without a cursing call
or backward look, goodbye, adios,
the world released us mon amis,
to a vacuum of knowing, and the slow
sharp pull of bestowing one cloak
we made as humanity leaped in crawing
song. And men and women hiding
there, who believed in freedom once,
will ask, is it here to sing again?
Of course said A to B to C
we only wanted to be free
in our anonymity. What's our name,
tell us quick, let them keep invisible
irrelevance in heavy hints, our wish
in clever words revealed a sinning
truth kinking time, in wrought
thinning sloped grace of a moon
They jangle on faery friends and sing
of what lies eloquence make behind
the grey eyes of a grey ghost
and the hooded caul of a thousand
broken lives left blowing in the laughter
of songs sung anonymously that sing
and strike the blow; tell us
of yourself, oh invisible host, again.
And really, it was a good read.