In Love With a Dead Man

Photograph, WB Yeats, by Alice Boughton

William Butler Yeats, my current obsession. He’s been gone for nearly 80 years. I’m working diligently at reproducing this handsome portrait. Results will be posted upon completion. In the meantime, read the words he wrote as part of his introduction to Lady Philippa Gregory’s Book of Irish Mythology and see if you don’t fall in love with him, too.

“We do not know who at the foundation of the world made the banquet for the first time, or who put the pack of cards into rough hands; but we do know that, unless those that have made many inventions are about to change the nature of poetry, we may go where Homer went if we are to sing a new song. Is it because all that is under the moon thirsts to escape out of bounds, to lose itself in some unbounded tidal stream, that the songs of the folk are mournful … and …whenever queens lament their for lovers, reminds us of songs that are still sung in country places?”

“When we have drunk of the cold cup of the moon’s intoxication, we thirst for something beyond ourselves, and the mind flows outward to a natural immensity; but if we have drunk from the hot cup of the sun, our own fullness awakens, we desire little, for wherever one goes one’s heart goes too; and if any ask what music is the sweetest, we can but answer… ‘what happens’

This makes me want to write fairy tales, stories about love, with heroes and queens, gods and monsters… And it makes me wish I had lived in a different time, a time when poets were published and people knew their names.

67 thoughts on “In Love With a Dead Man

      1. I was fascinated by him! But I get that not everyone would get the Doors. Some of their stuff was purposely bizarre which in retrospect is ridiculous! I just to run my hands through his hair… πŸ˜‹

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  1. I am sorry Meg, but William is taken. lol! Isn’t he gorgeous, and stanzas like birds! I can’t wait to see your portrait of this dashing young man, dead or aliveπŸ’™.

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  2. As to our living in this time and place: my art is my dialogue with my time and my place. Further, as I wrote to a certain Mr. Cake: there’s “Nothing wrong with the here and now. It’s the reality we live and observe. We escape from it when we write and dream. Without the here and now from which to flee, we would have no reason to dream.”

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  3. lets not forget that aside from all the Celtic Twilight fairies, gods and goddesses, that Yeats was absolutely instrumental in the creation of literary modernism. He bridged the gap between symbolism and the extraordinary explosion in arts and literature and without Yeats, no Eliot or Pound (actually Pound is argument against Yeats). And lets not forget his absolute bat shit crazy experiment with automatic writing A Vision and his serious involvement with the occult (he fell out with Crowley after giving a truly appalling verse-play of the Beast’s a lukewarm reception, Crowley put it down to jealously of his talent).

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    1. No of course I would not overlook that. Although A Vision is ‘bat shit crazy,’ he took it very seriously. It confirmed his belief in the great Memory, the connection between this world and the supernatural world. Besides, it perpetuated his belief in the Muse, albeit in a different form. The sexual union having been consummated with Georgie, no more the unattainable love. The seances, the fascination with the moon and its phases, his conviction in the dual nature of the male and female minds… All of it. Completely mesmerized by the man.

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      1. I like that it is bat shit crazy, I like that he connected his writing to something bigger. I like that he is was a visionary, I love visionaries. I think visionaries are sorely missed in literature. The current state of which could go either way, never before has so many people attempted it and yet there is so many other media out there. Hmmm. These thoughts have actually stopped me from writing for decades better not pursue them.

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      2. I know! The ‘crazy’ is part of the wonder! Precisely because he had this grander view. The Great Memory, accessing the divine… all of it possible if only one could change one’s ‘mind’… You are absolutely right: greater accessibility to the world of publishing gives new writers opportunities they might not otherwise have, and it also means that the gems are harder to find among the rubbish. Visionary. I wish I had a vision. I just have lots of voices chattering away in my head and once in a while they manage to tell me a decent story.


      1. Don’t worry, Cake I won’t be sneaking into Drumcliffe with a shovel. Moldering old bones don’t hold the same attraction as the memory of the young man. I need to work on my Origami Drive time machine.

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