Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cast a cold eye, on life, on death

Ben Bulben dominates Drumcliff churchyard where Yeats is buried
To Sligo a couple of weeks ago, and WB Yeats’s grave in Drumcliff churchyard.  Church of Ireland, the church of the protestant ascendancy.  His great-grandfather had been rector.

A lot could be said about Yeats, some good, some not. I recommend BBC's In Our Time, on Yeats and Irish politics. [1] He was proud of his protestant heritage. As a member of the newly created Irish Senate in 1925 he made his We are no petty people speech. “We . . . are no petty people. We are one of the great stocks of Burke; we are the people of Swift, the people of Emmet, the people of Parnell. We have created most of the modern literature of this country. We have created the best of its political intelligence.”

I lean on Yeats's headstone
Yeats penned his epitaph a year before he died:

    Under bare Ben Bulben's head
    In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
    An ancestor was rector there
    Long years ago, a church stands near,
    By the road an ancient cross.
    No marble, no conventional phrase;
    On limestone quarried near the spot
    By his command these words are cut:
        Cast a cold eye
        On life, on death.
        Horseman, pass by!

And here's Eileen at the Yeats statue in Sligo town. His clothes are covered in his poems.

 Soon:  ...   I read The Second Coming.

[1] If you want to download the episode, do it from this page. Search for “Yeats”

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