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mercredi, 10 janvier 2018

Contextualizing Yeats “Easter, 1916”


Contextualizing Yeats

“Easter, 1916”

By J. Garcia

Ex: https://medium.com

William Butler Yeats is one of the poets that lived through the great social and geopolitical changes of the first World War. World War I was a major turning point in history for the United Kingdom as well as the world in general. During the war, Irish separatist saw an opportunity to rebel against Britain and gain independence. The uprising, termed the Easter Rising, occurred in 1916. Yeats, at this point in his life, was a well-known writer and playwright who supported the nationalist. However, to understand Yeats’ “Easter, 1916” a poem about the uprising we need to contextualize the author and the poem. The poem centers around the author’s conflicting emotions about the uprising. It identifies the events of everyday life against the sacrifice of everyday people for a broader national goal. Ultimately the poem dabbles in the identity politics of its day. Identity politics are important to the understanding of his poem “Easter, 1916” because they play an important part in how Yeats sees himself and the world around him.

The research includes analyses of Yeats life and his work. The unifying thread among the different essays is the importance of “Easter, 1916” and this epoch of the writer’s life. They also relate in hashing out how his earlier experiences led to his involvement and his perspective on the historical event of the Easter Rising. In works such as Katherine Kodani and Neville F. Newman we see how his early life and experiences shaped his later poetry, including “Easter, 1916.” In Marjorie Perloff and Seongho Yoon’s works, we narrow the focus down into how Yeats goes about to establishing the events of the poem in the context of his personal feelings towards the uprising. The encyclopedic and research for the National Library of Ireland give us the necessary historical context to understand the author and the poem’s place in history.

Maude_Gonne_McBride_nd.jpgAt an early age Yeats became involved in mysticism which would prove controversial his whole life. Kodani explains, “The early poetry of William Butler Yeats was very much bound up with the forces and interests of his early years. Many of these influences — such as that of Maud Gonne, his father, and his own mystic studies — have been elucidated by some careful scholarship.” Yeats’ writing was influenced by his study of mysticism. He joined the Theosophical Society as his immediate family’s tradition was not very religious. Later he “became interested in esoteric philosophy, and in 1890 was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” (Seymour-Smith). He would pursue mystical philosophy the rest of his life to a greater or lesser degree.

Generally speaking, scholars have divided his professional life into three distinct periods. The first period consists of his time in London from1887 to around 1896. During this period Yeats worked and lived with other poets of his time. By 1896 he moved back to Ireland and worked as a playwright. This period is referred to as his more mature professional period. This would be the second period of his career. During the second period, he also became involved with Irish Nationalist. “He became established as one of the leaders of the Irish renaissance” (Seymour-Smith). This period of his professional life ended around the year 1909.

The final period of Yeats professional life starts in 1910 with his poem “The Green Helmet.” During the final stage of his career Yeats writes some of the poetry he terms occasional poems. Perloff states, “the occasional poems such as ‘Easter 1916,’ ‘A Prayer for my Daughter,’ ‘Coole Park, 1929,’ and ‘Parnell’s Funeral,’ that, rather than the more overly philosophical poems, constitute Yeats’s central achievement and are the cause o f his continuing popularity” (327). The onset of this period was a time of political turmoil in Ireland were Irish nationalist rose against the British. The National Library of Ireland explains on its website, “following the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the Irish Republican Brotherhood decided to stage an insurrection at the next opportune moment, bearing in mind the maxim of England’s difficulty being Ireland’s opportunity.”

The murder of James MacBride during the Easter Rising by the British was very troubling to him. This was the man who married Maude Gonne the woman Yeats had proposed marriage to in 1899. The events of the uprising clearly left a mark on Yeats as his later poetry and work would reflect. In fact, Perloff explains, “it is the interaction of public event and private experience, rather than its symbolic dimension or its political philosophy, that distinguishes a poem like “Easter 1916.” The fusion is, moreover, one that Yeats very nearly invented” (328).


As Perloff explains Yeats mixes the political with the personal. He intertwines public events with his own personal grieve. In this style, the poems reference not only his pain but also the pain of others around him.

Now that we have contextualized Yeats’ life, let us enter the arena of the poem “Easter, 1916.” As we noticed Yeats considered himself Irish and was involved in Irish politics. His experienced shaped his view of the greater United Kingdom and its policies towards its subjugated areas. In Yeats’ poem “Easter, 1916” we repeatedly find the theme of identity. The poem’s first line immediately establishes otherness. It states, “I have met them at close of day” (Yeats 1). He separates his identity from the identity of the people he meets and interacts with on a daily basis. He is aware that there must be interaction and communication but he feels above it. “I have passed with a nod of the head / Or polite meaningless words” (6,7). The small-talk of acquaintances or passerby does not interest him much.

The difference between them and the speaker is demarcated by the separation or removal of the place. The speaker does not place importance on the affairs of the others. Marjorie E. Howes states, “Yeats was a nationalist who longed for community but hated crowds” (66). This tongue-in-cheek compliment scratches the surface of the poetic image that “Easter, 1916” presents. The speaker acknowledges what is happening in his world and to some degree wants to be a part of it but at the same time feels he is above the people he encounters on a daily basis. He interacts with them, jokes with them, and nods at them “to please a companion” (Yeats 11). The poem establishes the general in order to establish the personal perspective of the speaker.

This memorable poem succeeds because it reaches the reader in an intimate way. Although, the poem was written in the midst of World War I and, in effect, is a poem about the side-effects of said war on the United Kingdom’s political system, Marjorie Perloff makes an interesting observation, “it does celebrate a particular event of a public character — in this case, a political crisis — but its tone is not that of the forum but, on the contrary, that of private meditation” (328). The poem focuses on the intimate and the personal. The observation of one speaker against the backdrop of a political rebellion. The events of the political crises fade to the background to allow the individual to share his own moral and personal growth.

The focus broadens after the first stanza to encompass the people in the speaker’s life. He touches upon the lives of women but mostly focuses on men and their sacrifices and the daily struggle that makes up life. He touches upon the intimate and the personal such as the arguments of marriage and the lust of days gone by, “what voice more sweet than hers / When, young and beautiful” (Yeats 21,22). He laments for the sacrifices and the loss of people he had dismissed in the first stanza. It is an interesting capitulation to the political will of the multitude. Neville F. Newman states, “the fundamental political changes represented by the Easter rebellion contain the potential for a political and moral petrification” (146, 147). Identity politics is a complex issue. By identifying and defining the otherness of people, in this case, the Irish who wanted liberty at the cost of human sacrifice, there is a clear pattern and path to follow. The poem wonders if that path is worth the undertaking and sacrifice.

The third stanza is the only one that does not end with the line “a terrible beauty is born” (Yeats 16, 31, 71). In this way and in others, it is different from the other stanzas in the poem. It focuses on the changing nature of the situation. It veers, fast-paced, into the moment of the confrontation. The speaker is forced into the action. Newman explains:


The ‘living stream’ that is troubled by the stone clearly is life itself. In a constant state of progression, the stream contains a force and purpose that drive without comprehension past everything it passes over, or which passes through it — unless, that is, the stream acknowledges the permanent reminder located ‘in the midst of all’ (145).

The speaker is forced to partake in the events around him. The events drive the speaker’s world forcefully forward and all he can do is observe live unfolding before him.

The final stanza again focuses on the personal. It is as if the speaker understands through the force of the preceding events the sacrifice of the people around him. He begs the question, “was it needless death after all? (Yeats 57). The crises the inspired this poem shook Yeats profoundly. He lost people he had for better or worse known and associated with intimately. The struggles and the sacrifices added up. Thus Yeats’ work “is a poem of experience, a dramatic lyric in which actual persons and places from the poet’s own life and from the public life of the Ireland that he knew become constituent parts of his drama” (Perloff 334). Therefore, “a terrible beauty is born” (Yeats 71). The sacrifices are terrible and the deaths tragic, but from the events of the 1916 uprising something is accomplished. The march towards Irish independence had not come to a conclusion but, as Yeats suggests with the last poignant line, the sacrifices will be remembered.

The uprising was a public and private event for Yeats. “Easter, 1916” reflects this duality. “At the heart of “Easter 1916” are the mixed feelings of respect and annoyance, grief and horror. Whereas it was hard for Yeats to deny the deep impact of the rising on his outlook, he could not help feeling perturbed by both the outbreak and aftermath of the Rising” (Yoon). From this conflict arises crises of identity politics throughout the poem. The public and personal impress upon each other and Yeats demonstrates how he cannot extricate himself from the events that are affecting his loved ones, friends, and acquaintances. The overarching themes of the poem are the normalcy of life under the British system and the price of change. The death and sacrifice that can bring about the end to the perceived injustice from British control is a heavy one. The author seems to be weighing the costs of the sacrifices and ultimately glorifying those sacrifices.

Works Cited

“1916 Exhibition: The Preparations for the Rising.” National Library of Ireland — 1916 Exhibition. 2016. Web. 19 July 2016.

Howes, Marjorie Elizabeth. Yeats’s Nations : Gender, Class, And Irishness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 19 July 2016Perloff, Marjorie. “Yeats and The Occasional Poem: ‘Easter 1916’.” Papers On Language & Literature 3–4 (2014): Literature Resource Center. Web. 19 July 2016.

Newman, Neville F. “Yeats’s Easter 1916.” The Explicator 3 (2002): 145. Literature Resource Center. Web. 19 July 2016.

Perloff, Marjorie. “Yeats And The Occasional Poem: ‘Easter 1916’.” Papers On Language & Literature 3–4 (2014): Literature Resource Center. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.

Yeats, William Butler. “Easter, 1916.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Web. 19 July 2016.

“Yeats, William Butler.” World Authors 1900–1950 (1996): Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson). Ed. Seymour-Smith, Andrew C. Kimmens. Web. 19 July 2016.

Yoon, Seongho. “’Of What Is Past, Or Passing, Or To Come’: Engaging Yeatsian Temporality In ‘Easter 1916’.” Forum For World Literature Studies 3 (2015): 461. Literature Resource Center. Web. 1 Aug. 2016.

mardi, 03 mai 2016

Die irische Rebellion

IrrebtiMain Parade 104.jpg

Die irische Rebellion


Ex: http://younggerman.de

800 Jahre Fremdherrschaft

Irische Butter und Kleeblätter – dazu ein paar Kobolde in Goldtöpfchen und ein seit einer halben Ewigkeit anhaltender Kleinkrieg auf Sparflamme. Der Nordirlandkonflikt mag Angesichts der dringenderen Probleme an den Grenzen der EU aus den Medien verschwunden sein. Aber er hat relativ wenig an Aktualität verloren. Irland ist nicht mehr das „Backwater country“ von früher, wo englische Lords über die Massen an Leibeigenen und verarmten Kleinbürgern herrschen konnten. Die Éire hat ihre Unabhängigkeit zumindest teilweise zurückgewonnen und dennoch schwelt unterschwellig der Konflikt zwischen Iren und Briten weiter. Viele Stimmen in der irischen Bevölkerung und in der britischen sind durchaus der Meinung, dass man endlich das Kriegsbeil begraben und die Vergangenheit ruhen lassen sollte. Aber ganz so einfach ist es dann doch nicht, wenn man zurückblickt und sieht, dass der Groll der Iren tief sitzt. Für die Briten waren die letzten 800 Jahre ihrer Geschichte eine Abfolge von Siegen und großen Errungenschaften. Über die britischen Könige des Mittelalters, der englischen Vormachtsstellung in Europa und später durch das Empire auf dem ganzen Globus, bis zu den Siegen in den Weltkriegen. Industrielle Revolution, Bürgerrechte und Liberalismus machten aus Britannia die prägende Nation von weltgeltung, die Irland niemals war und wohl niemals sein wird. Iren und Briten haben ein ganz unterschiedliches historisches Gedächtnis. Im Jahr 1169 wird ein weiterer Schritt für die Dominanz Britanniens in den Geschichtsbüchern gesetzt, als die Normannen die irische Insel erobern und die einheimischen Bewohner in die vergleichsweise öden Teile ihres eigenen Landes verbannen. Es beginnt eine brutale Eroberungskampagne, wie damals überall so üblich, welche die katholischen Iren zu unfreiwilligen Untertanen des aufsteigenden englischen Machtzentrums macht. Man fühlt sich automatisch an den alten griechischen Melierdialog erinnert, in welchem die militärisch stärkeren Athener den Meliern folgendes an den Kopf warfen :

„the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must“ 

Die englische Insel war der irischen Insel militärisch überlegen und die Konsequenz dieser Überlegenheit war die totale Unterwerfung unter die Herrschaft der Engländer, die bei aller Gerechtigkeit nicht sonderlich besonnen oder feinfühlig mit ihren irischen Nachbarn umgingen. Dies mag jedoch der Moral der Zeit geschuldet sein, welche in den unteren Schichten der Gesellschaft (und dazu gehörten faktisch fast alle Iren) keine sonderlich wichtigen oder schützenswerten Elemente sah. Die Geschichte der Iren ist in den nächsten 400 Jahren eine Abfolge von Repression und Revolution gegen die neuen Herrscher; ein beständiges Aufbegehren gegen die besitzenden Eliten und ihre Militärmacht. Rückständige Clans der irischen Einwohner waren jedoch keine ernstzunehmende Bedrohung für die erstarkende Macht an der Themse. Es ist für die Iren bedauerlicherweise so, dass selbst bei erfolgreichen Revolten im Innern der irischen Insel, mit Regress von Osten zu rechnen war.


Oliver Cromwell nahm einen solchen Regress an den Iren in seiner berüchtigten Strafexpedition im 17. Jahrhundert. Für die Briten ist Cromwell ein elementarer Teil ihrer durchaus ruhmreichen Geschichte. Für die Iren ist er der Dschingis Khan der grünen Insel, der brutalste Verbrechen an der Bevölkerung dort begang und die Insel nach einer kurzen Revolte dort wieder unter die Herrschaft der Krone brachte. Die an den Iren verübten Gräuel sind für die Zeit relativ dokumentiert und erinnern an die deutschen Ereignisse im Dreißigjährigenkrieg, wo ähnliche Verbrechen an der leidenden Zivilbevölkerung begangen wurden. Überhaupt erinnert Irland an eine Art übergroßes Brandenburg, dass mit ländlicher Rückständigkeit und bäuerlichem Charme besticht. Eben Brandenburg ohne ein Preußen und daher ohne Glanz und Macht. Irland gehörte auch zu jenen Ländern, die ähnlich wie Brandenburg von der Kartoffel profitieren sollten. Für eine Zeit lang zumindest, bis die Kartoffelfäule 1846 bis 1849 in der Großen Hungersnot gut bis zu 2 Millionen Iren dahinraffte. Und obwohl es sehr besorgte Stimmen im Königreich Großbritannien gab, welche sich für das Leid der hungernden Iren stark machten, geschah von Seiten der Regierung nichts. Tatsächlich hatte sie die Fäule durch die repressive Agrarpolitik mitverursacht und es gab sogar solche Individuen wie Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan, welche in den Iren minderwertige Subjekte sahen. Für ihn war die Fäule und die Hungersnot eine gerechte Strafe Gottes und der Tod von Millionen Iren wurde von ihm sogar begrüßt. Das ist insofern wichtig, da er als Administrator Einfluss auf die britischen Politik ausübte und verhindern konnte, dass Nothilfe die Iren erreichte. Der psyschologische Effekt, wenn ein Viertel der Bevölkerung stirbt, ist dramatisch und sollte den Deutschen sehr wohl bekannt sein. Wir haben im Dreißigjährigen Krieg und vorher mit der Beulenpest ähnliche Gräuel durchgestanden. Für die Iren ist es das prägenste und bis heute wichtigste Ereignis der jüngeren irischen Geschichte. Ähnlich dem Völkermord an den Armeniern von der Dimension. Für viele Iren besteht kein Zweifel, dass die Briten einen Genozid begangen haben. Zustimmung erhalten die irischen Positionen hier vor allem aus Indien, wo während und zwischen den Weltkriegen ähnliche Hungersnöte innerhalb der indischen Bevölkerung zu Millionen Toten geführt haben. Auch hier waren die Briten indirekt oder direkt verantwortlich. Eine Fußnote in der Geschichte des Empires, die weniger ruhmreich ist und von vielen lieber verdrängt wird.

Nordirland ist der letzte Brückenkopf

Nun geht es aber um den Konflikt im „Heute“ und man sollte sich gut vorstellen können, warum vielen Iren es sehr schwer fällt, die Vergangenheit zu begraben und einfach „Frieden“ zu haben. Nicht nur wäre dies ein Bruch mit dem seit 800 Jahren andauernden Widerstand gegen die Briten, sondern es gibt einen omnipräsenten Grund in der Jetztzeit. Nämlich Nordirland. Das Stück fruchtbare Land im Nordosten, welches von der Krone nicht zurückgegeben wurde bei Gründung des unabhängigen Irlands. Es ist die letzte Erinnerung an die englischen-protestantischen Kolonialherren, die dort auch heute noch leben. Unionisten, welche lieber beim Königreich verbleiben würden und sich großteils nicht als Iren sehen, wenngleich sie ihr Protektorat mit vielen katholischen Iren teilen müssen. Wenn die Geschichte anders verlaufen und die Iren die dominante Insel gewesen wären und heute einen Teil Englands halten würden, wäre es wohl genau anders herum und die Iren wären die fremdländischen Besatzer. Aber so ist es nicht und die Iren sind die Schwachen in diesem Konflikt. Nordirland exisitiert als beständige Präsenz des für die Iren grausamen Empires und es vereint gleich drei Probleme in einem Land.

Erstens: Die verschiedenen Identitäten; katholisch Irisch oder britisch-protestantisch – für Nordirland ist dieser ethnisch-religiöse Konflikt von immenser Bedeutung, gewinnt er doch durch einen gewissen Klassenkonflikt noch an Intensität.

Zweitens: Nordirland ist ein Teil des Vereinigten Königreiches und gehört zur Krone. Für die Iren ist jedoch die gesamte irische Insel ihre Heimat und sie erheben Anspruch auf den Besitz der ganzen Insel. Dies ist für Irland von brisanter Bedeutung, da Großbritannien die Souveränität der Iren dadurch unterwandert. Eine starke militärische Präsenz durch Briten während des Kalten Krieges brachte auch die Iren in ein gewisses Dilemma, da ihre Insel selbstverständlich zum Ziel wurde für nukleare Schläge im einem Schlagaustausch zwischen UDSSR und USA. Vor allem deshalb, weil die Iren sich sonst verhältnismäßig neutral halten.

Drittens: Ökonomische Ungleichheit zwischen Iren und Briten – obwohl die Verhältnisse längst nicht so dramatisch sind wie noch vor einigen Jahrzehnten, gibt es doch eine Diskrepanz zwischen Briten und Iren was ihren Wohlstand angeht. Für die besitzenden Klassen aus Großbritannien und viele alteingesessene Adlige, besteht ein Interesse am Erhalt von Nordirland da sich dort ihr Besitz befindet. Viele Iren sehen in den wohlhabenden Unionisten jedoch eine Fortführung britischer Elitentradition.


Es ging immer gegen London

Es ist jener letzter ökonomischer Faktor, welcher die irischen Revolutionäre auch immer wieder in die offenen Arme sozialistischer Ideologien trieb. Katholischer Kommunismus der Iren, gepaart mit einem Nationalismus und einer antiimperialistischen Färbung, streckte oft die Hände aus. Manchmal nach Moskau und manchmal nach Berlin. In beiden Weltkriegen suchten irische Nationalisten/Revolutionäre Hilfe im Ausland – egal wo. Hauptsache es ging gegen die Briten. So halfen deutsche Agenten irischen Nationalisten im Ersten Weltkrieg und auch von Seiten des aufbegehrenden Sozialismus bekamen die Iren immer wieder Hilfe. Bis heute. Es passt auch zur proletarischen Natur und Geschichte der Inselbewohner, die sich nicht als Eliten verstanden haben und auch keine waren. Eine Kritik die man wohl an den Aufständischen äußern muss, ist ihr unkritisches Verhalten gegenüber vermeintlichen Verbündeten im Kampf gegen Großbritannien. Solange der neue Allierte sich ebenfalls im Kampf gegen die Briten betätigt, wird über seine Fehler hinweg geschaut. „Der Feind meines Feind ist mein Freund“. Der Aufstand der Iren ist die Revolte der Schwachen und Kleinen und das war er schon immer.

Die Iren haben in diesem Konflikt ihr Land verloren, ihre ursprüngliche Sprache (das Englische wurde ihnen aufgezwungen) und sie haben Millionen ihrer Angehörigen verloren. Es ist vielleicht die Verzweiflung, welche sie in düsteren Gefilden nach Allianzen suchen lässt.

Ein Spaziergang durch die Straßen Nordirlands erinnert an arabische Städte, wo die Graffities von Märtyrern mit Sturmgewehren an jeder zweiten Hauswand kleben. Wenn die Iren jedoch glauben, in den Palästinsern oder generell in arabisch-islamischen Terroristen Freunde zu haben, weil diese ebenfalls gegen Großbritannien kämpfen, dann irren sie sich. Zwischen Belfast und Beirut liegen eben doch – Welten. 

lundi, 28 mars 2016

Conférence: Patrick Pearse et le nationalisme irlandais


vendredi, 16 mai 2014

Waren de Beatles Ierse nationalisten?


Waren de Beatles Ierse nationalisten?
Francis Van den Eynde
Ex: Deltapers - Nieuwsbrief - Nr. 83 - Mei 2014
Je hoeft geen fan van de popmuziek te zijn en ook niet zelf de beruchte ‘sixties’ meegemaakt te hebben om te weten dat de wispelturige en incidentrijke muziekgeschiedenis van de Beatles grosso modo in drie periodes kan worden opgedeeld.

Tijdens de eerste, die ongeveer duurde van 1960 tot 1965, werden ze formidabel populair op wereldniveau met het coveren van bekende Amerikaanse rock and roll en al even Amerikaanse rhythm and blues nummers: I Got a Woman van Ray Charles, That’s all Right Mama van Elvis Presley, Roll over Beethoven van Chuck Berry, enz. De eigen muziek die ze tijdens die jaren uitbrengen, is hierop volledig geïnspireerd: I Want to hold your Hand, I Saw Her Standing There … Vanaf 1965 wagen ze zich verder en beginnen ze te experimenteren. Eerst vrij schuchter, voor het nummer Norvegian Wood schakelen ze bijvoorbeeld een sitar in en het overbekende Yesterday laten ze door een strijkorkest begeleiden. Van af dan zullen ze op veel radicalere wijze het ingeslagen pad blijven volgen. In die mate dat wanneer ze in 1967 de LP Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band op de markt brengen, deze door de recensent van de oerdeftige Britse Times een mijlpaal in de popgeschiedenis wordt genoemd. Het zijn de jaren van Let it Be, Hey Jude, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields for Ever, Eleanor Rugby (deze opsomming is niet chronologisch) en zo vele andere. Ze hebben op dat ogenblik met hun meer gesofisticeerde muziek definitief de Merseybeat (genoemd naar de rivier Mersey, die door hun geboortestad Liverpool stroomt) ver achter zich gelaten. Ook de teksten die ze zingen hebben een hele verandering ondergaan. Misschien spreken ze u niet aan, geachte lezer, maar u zult moeten toegeven dat de inhoud van pakweg Let it Be of Eleanor Rugby heel wat meer diepte heeft dan die van She Loves You of die van A Hard Day’s Night. Ze durven zich zelf aan politiek wagen. Ze hebben uiteraard een links pacifistische reputatie, maar dit weerhoudt er hen niet van, in het nummer Revolution de draak met Mei 68 te steken. Oordeel zelf:
You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead
Liever de IRA dan het Brits leger
De derde fase van de muzikale evolutie van leden van deze popgroep wiens populariteit tot hiertoe door niemand werd geëvenaard, kan best het Post Beatle tijdperk worden genoemd. Ten gevolge van allerlei interne strubbelingen valt de ploeg in 1970 uiteen. Alhoewel ze af en toe nog eens  met een paar andere leden van de groep musiceren,  beginnen John Lennon en Paul McCartney met succes een eigen carrière uit te bouwen. Lennon gaat solo, denk aan het lied Imagine. Je kan het met de teneur van de tekst totaal oneens zijn maar niemand kan tegenspreken dat het een prachtig stuk is. McCartney van zijn kant sticht een nieuwe groep, The Wings, en brengt onder meer het prachtige en onvergetelijke Mull of Kintyre uit.

Ondertussen staat Noord-Ierland in rep en roer. De bewoners uit de zogenaamde katholieke wijken van dat stukje Ierland waren in 1969 een vreedzame campagne voor gelijke burgerrechten begonnen (het censitair kiesrecht was er nog altijd van toepassing). De campagne werd door de Britsgezinde protestanten met veel geweld beantwoord. In die mate zelfs dat de IRA er zich toe verplicht zag haar wapens boven te halen om een aantal wijken tegen ware pogroms te beschermen. De Britse troepen die de politie te hulp kwamen, gingen zich algauw als een brutaal bezettingsleger gedragen. De situatie werd met de dag erger. Op 13 augustus 1971 gingen de Engelsen over tot de arrestatie van honderden Ieren die allemaal zonder vorm van proces voor onbepaalde tijd in het pas gebouwde concentratiekamp van Long Kesh werden opgesloten. Het trieste hoogtepunt werd bereikt op 30 januari 1972 (Bloody Sunday) toen Britse soldaten In Derry (op dat moment nog Londonderry) 13 burgers die aan een vreedzame manifestatie deelnamen, doodschoten. Dit alles liet John noch Paul onberoerd. Ze kwamen immers uit Liverpool, een stad die ten gevolge van de massale immigratie in de negentiende eeuw qua bevolking eerder Iers dan Brits is. Beiden zijn ze trouwens van Ierse afkomst: Lennon is de verengelste vorm van de Ierse familienaam O Lionnain die veel voorkomt in het Noord-Ierse graafschap Fermanagh en de ongehuwde moeder van Paul droeg de typisch Ierse naam Mary Mohin McCartney. Beiden zullen dan ook fel reageren. McCartney schrijft het lied Give Ireland Back to the Irish, dat hij met de Wings op plaat uitbrengt. Het refrein luidt:
Give Ireland Back To the Irish
Don't Make Them Have To Take It Away
Give Ireland Back To the Irish
Make Ireland Irish Today
Lennon reageert nog feller met twee liederen die volledig in de Ierse rebelsongtraditie thuis horen, The Luck of the Irish en Sunday Bloody Sunday, dezelfde titel als het gekende nummer van Bono en U2, maar veel harder qua tekst. We kunnen er dan ook niet aan weerstaan, het u in extenso te laten lezen:
Sunday Bloody Sunday (Lennon-Ono)

Well it was Sunday bloody Sunday
When they shot the people there
The cries of thirteen martyrs
Filled the Free Derry air

Is there any one amongst you
Dare to blame it on the kids?
Not a soldier boy was bleeding
When they nailed the coffin lids!

Sunday bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday's the day!

You claim to be majority
Well you know that it's a lie
You're really a minority
On this sweet emerald isle
When Stormont bans our marches

They've got a lot to learn
Internment is no answer
It's those mothers' turn to burn!

Sunday bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday's the day!
Sunday bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday's the day!

You anglo pigs and Scotties
Sent to colonize the North
You wave your bloody Union Jack
And you know what it's worth!
How dare you hold to ransom
A people proud and free
Keep Ireland for the Irish
Put the English back to sea!

Sunday bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday's the day!

Well, it's always bloody Sunday
In the concentration camps
Keep Falls Road free forever
From the bloody English hands

Repatriate to Britain
All of you who call it home
Leave Ireland to the Irish
Not for London or for Rome!

Sunday bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday's the day!

(bekijk en beluister op youtube)
Een toemaatje: zowel Lennon als McCartney werden meer dan eens in pro Ierse demonstaties opgemerkt en Lennon die ooit verklaarde dat hij de IRA boven het Britse leger verkoos, werd er door de FBI van verdacht het Iers geheim leger te financieren. Meent u ook niet dat de vraag die als titel voor dit stuk wordt gebruikt, positief mag worden beantwoord?
Francis Van den Eynde

mardi, 01 février 2011

The Wolfe Tones - Come Out Ye Black and Tans - Michael Collins - James Connolly

The Wolfe Tones

Come Out Ye Black and Tans

Michael Collins


James Connolly


vendredi, 17 septembre 2010

William Butler Yeats: A Poet for the West

William Butler Yeats: A Poet for the West


william_butler_yeat_by_george_charles_beresford4.jpgIn saner times our great poets, writers, and philosophers expressed the feelings and ideas which came naturally from the race-soul. In these times those feelings and ideas are too “controversial” to be expressed freely, so where they cannot be suppressed outright, they are reinterpreted, obscured, and selectively anthologized by the alien arbiters of our culture. For no poet of our race has this been more true than for William Butler Yeats.

William Butler Yeats was probably the greatest poet of the modern age; T. S. Eliot acknowledged as much. His roots were deep in Ireland, but, withal, he embodied the questing spirit of the whole of Western culture.

It is impossible without writing a volume (or two) to render even a partial appreciation of his many-faceted life and work. He was born into the Irish Protestant tradition, of that line which included Swift, Burke, Grattan, Parnell. He was poet, playwright, guiding spirit of the famed Abbey Theatre, essayist, philoso­pher, statesman, mystic. But, as he once wrote, “The intellect of man is forced to choosePerfection of the life, or of the work” ["The Choice"], and it is primarily in his poetry that most people seek an understanding of his genius.

Some of his views confounded the mediocre, left-wing poets and intellectuals who sought him out in his later years. Unable, of course, to ignore him, they attempted to appropriate him as their own, much as Walter Kaufmann, a Jew, attempted to do with Friedrich Nietzsche some years later. Thus, many writings about Yeats totally ignore his more “controver­sial” ideas, or at best refer to them only obliquely.

For example, Yeats believed in reincarnation, not only in a poet’s way, as a dramatic symbol. but quite literally: the individual human spirit remained a part of the collective race-soul even after the body died, and as long as the race endured the individual spirit might re-emerge later in another body. In an early poem, written when he was about 24, we have:

“Ah, do not mourn,” he said,
‘That we are tired, for other loves await us;
Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.

– “Ephemera”

And just a few months before his death in 1939 at age 73, with matured powers of creative expression:

Many times man lives and dies Between his two eternities,
That of race and that of soul,
And ancient Ireland knew it all.
Whether man die in his bed
Or the rifle knock him dead,
A brief parting from those dear
Is the worst man has to fear.
Though grave-diggers’ toil is long,
Sharp their spades, their muscles strong,
They but thrust their buried men
Back in the human mind again.

– “Under Ben Bulben”

Modern liberalism and democracy were anathema to Yeats’s aristocratic spirit. He was a good friend of Ezra Pound. He was associated for a time with the Irish Blueshirts, led by General O’Duffy, and he wrote some marching songs for them. He spoke of “Mussolini’s incomparable Fascisti” (although being the kind of man he was he recoiled somewhat from the demagogic elements of fascist movements).

He read widely and avidly on race, eugenics, Italian Fascism, and German National Socialism. On eugenics, according to his biographer, Yeats “spoke much of the necessity of the unification of the State under a small aristocratic order which would prevent the materially and spiritually uncreative families and individuals from prevailing over the creative.”[1] Eugenics, to Yeats, had both physical and spiritual aspects, It is touched upon in some of the poems. In “Under Ben Bulben” he wrote:

Poet and sculptor, do the work
Nor let the modish painter shirk
What his great forefathers did,
Bring the soul of man to God,
Make him fill the cradles right.

Irish poets, learn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.

A much earlier poem reads:

All things uncomely and broken, all things worn out and old,
The cry of a child by the roadway, the creak of a lumbering cart,
The heavy steps of the ploughman, splashing the wintry mould,
Are wronging your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.

The wrong of unshapely things is a wrong too great to be told;
I hunger to build them anew and sit on a green knoll apart,
With the earth and the sky and the water, re-made, like a casket of gold.
For my dreams of your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.

– “The Lover Tells of the Rose in His Heart”

Yeats did not write for scholars, but for the people, and schoolchildren throughout the English-speaking world are familiar with at least a few of his works–or, perhaps, just a line or a phrase from them. Many youngsters have recited in school this verse by the young Yeats:

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

– “Down by the Salley Gardens”

Another favorite is ”The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” During his many tours of the United States, every American audience insisted he recite it for them:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattle made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

Nearly as familiar is the stark vision of “The Second Coming”:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?

People with a liberal mind set have often quoted this last poem, but some do so with a certain amount of unease, and rightly. Accepting historical necessity, Yeats is not, as the American Jewish critic Harold Bloom pointed out, necessarily averse to this “rough beast.”[2]

Thus, liberal critics are never completely comfortable in the company of Yeats. In “Under Ben Bulben,” one of Yeats’s last poems and a general summary of his ideas, he writes:

You that Mitchel’s prayer have heard
“Send war in our time, O Lord!”
Know that when all words are said
And a man is fighting mad,
Something drops from eyes long blind,
He completes his partial mind,
For an instant stands at ease,
Laughs aloud, his heart at peace.
Even the wisest man grows tense
With some sort of violence
Before he can accomplish fate,
Know his work or choose his mate.

Bloom charged that Yeats “abused the Romantic tradition” in these lines. But Yeats would have shown Bloom the contempt he deserves; in one of Yeats’s letters we can read: “I am full of life and not too disturbed by the enemies I must make. This is the proposition on which I write: There is now overwhelming evidence that man stands between eternities, that of his family and that of his soul. I apply those beliefs to literature and politics and show the change they must make. . . . My belief must go into what I write, even if I estrange friends; some when they see my meaning set out in plain print will hate me for poems which they have thought meant nothing.”

Earlier Yeats had written of war, politics, and pleasant but self-defeating illusions. In “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” he surveyed both the halcyon pre-World War I years and the grim aftermath of war, civil war, and revolution:

We too had many pretty toys when young:
A law indifferent to blame or praise,
To bribe or threat; habits that made old wrong
Melt down, as it were wax in the sun’s rays;
Public opinion ripening for so long
We thought it would outlive all future days.
O what fine thoughts we had because we thought
That the worst rogues and rascals had died out. . . .

Now days are dragon-ridden, the nightmare
Rides upon sleep: a drunken soldiery
Can leave the mother, murdered at her door,
To crawl in her own blood, and go scot-free;
The night can sweat with terror as before
We pieced our thoughts into philosophy,
And planned to bring the world under a rule,
Who are but weasels fighting in a hole.

Yeats himself did not take an active part in the Irish civil war, and he may have felt a certain uneasiness about the physical side of the struggle:

An affable Irregular,
A heavily-built Falstaffian man,
Comes cracking jokes of civil war
As though to die by gunshot were
The finest play under the sun.

– “Meditations in Time of Civil War”

Yeats, it is true, spent much time contemplating and expressing himself on the great problems of the age and of the individual living in this age, but he never strayed far from whimsy. As typical of his poetry as anything he wrote is the neatly lyrical “To Anne Gregory,” addressed to the granddaughter of his friend and fellow playwright Lady Augusta Gregory:

“Never shall a young man,
Thrown into despair
By those great honey-colored
Ramparts at your ear,
Love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair:

“But I can get a hair-dye
And set such color there,
Brown, or black, or carrot,
That young men in despair
May love me for myself alone
And not my yellow hair.’

“I heard an old religious man
But yestemight declare
That he had found a text to prove
That only God, my dear,
Could love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.”

I know of no English or American poet writing today who can approach even remotely Yeats’s lyrical power or his poetic shaping of strong and startling ideas. Most of today’s poets are professors of English or fine arts who grind out pedestrian or pretentious drivel, presumably for prestige within the academic commu­nity. And it is hardly conceivable that there are any campus publications, literary or otherwise, that would publish all of Yeats’s material were he writing today. What, for instance, would they do with these lines from “John Kinsella’s Lament For Mrs. Mary Moore”?:

Though stiff to strike a bargain,
Like an old Jew man,
Her bargain struck we laughed and talked
And emptied many a can . . . .

Perhaps Yeats was the culmination of that great, surging Romantic wave, now in recession.

Though the great song return no more
There’s keen delight in what we have:
The rattle of pebbles on the shore
Under the receding wave.

– “The Nineteenth Century and After”

Perhaps. And perhaps a revitalized and resurgent West can at least produce poets in the great tradition, who refuse to wallow in mud and make a career of destroying our language.

Sing the peasantry, and then
Hard-riding country gentlemen,
The holiness of monks, and after
Porter-drinkers randy laughter;
Sing the lords and ladies gay
That were beaten into the clay
Through seven heroic centuries;
Cast your mind on other days
That we in coming days may be
Still the indomitable Irishry.

– “Under Ben Bulben”

These lines also proved upsetting to Bloom, and understandably. Yeats here issues a clear tribal call for cultural unity by appealing to racial instinct and historical experience: blood and soil. A Jewish critic, who had never shared in the experience, but rather was steeped in another totally alien, and thus had no real comprehension of the soul-state from which the poet spoke, would, as a matter of course, feel hostile to such verse. Too bad for Bloom and his fellows that Yeats’s reputation is already established; they have now little other to do but to wring their hands and rend their garments in their studies.

William Butler Yeats: rooted in Ireland, a seeker in the Western tradition, a giant of our race and culture; like Nietzsche, a “conqueror of Time”; and, perchance, one of the heralds of the times to come:

O silver trumpets, be you lifted up
And cry to the great race that is to come.
Long-throated swans upon the waves of time,
Sing loudly, for beyond the wall of the world
That race may hear our music and awake.

– “The King’s Threshold”


[1] Joseph M. Hone, W. B. Yeats, 1865–1939 (1943).

[2] Harold Bloom, Yeats (1972).

jeudi, 10 décembre 2009

Une vie pour l'Irlande: Patrick Pearse


Une vie pour l'Irlande: Padraig Mac Piarais


IREpearse.jpgPoète, éducateur et soldat, tel fut Patrick Pearse (1879-1916), l'un des pères de l'Irlande libre. Jean Mabire, défenseur opiniâtre des patries charnelles et l'un des vrais inspirateur du renouveau révolutionnaire-conservateur en Europe, nous offre un élégant petit livre vert que tous les activistes des profondeurs serreront dans leur besace. Patrick Pearse, une vie pour l'Irlande est édité par l'association identitaire “Terre et Peuple”; c'est d'ailleurs son président, Pierre Vial, professeur d'histoire du Moyen Age à l'Université de Lyon, qui préface ce précieux bréviaire dédié à Michel Déon, autre amoureux de la Verte Erin et bel éveilleur lui aussi. Je tiens en effet La Carotte et le bâton (Table ronde) et Les Poneys sauvages  (Gallimard) pour des livres essentiels à la formation d'une sensibilité antimoderne, que tous nos amis doivent avoir lu, au même titre qu'Henri Vincenot ou Jean Raspail (Le Camp des Saints, qui serait aujourd'hui interdit!). P. Vial souligne la principale qualité de Pearse: il fut un intellectuel organique dans le meilleur sens du terme, un homme dévoué à sa patrie jusqu'à la mort, et qui mit en accord ses pensées les plus profondes et ses actes les plus risqués. Comme Grundtvig ou Petöfi, Pearse voua sa vie à la cause des peuples, la plus noble qui soit. Aujourd'hui comme hier, Pearse demeure un modèle pour nous autres, patriotes continentaux, puisqu'il avait compris que le combat culturel précède toujours l'action politique et que celle-ci peut, quand l'état d'urgence (Ernstfall) l'exige, se transformer en révolution armée. Jean Mabire dresse un portrait complet et attachant du poète, initiateur de la Renaissance gaélique (des vers aux fusils, la route est parfois moins longue que prévu), car il avait compris que la langue, comme la géographie, cela sert aussi à faire la guerre! Pearse fut aussi éducateur de son peuple en créant le Collège où seront formés spirituellement (« Si l'Irlande spirituelle disparaît, alors l'Irlande réelle mourra aussi » aime à répéter Padraig Mac Piarais, forme gaélique de Patrick Pearse) et intellectuellement les Volunteers  dont l'Irlande a tant besoin. Enfin, il assumera au moment voulu l'écrasante responsabilité de déclencher une révolte armée, la sixième en trois siècles, l'Uprising de Pâques 1916, écrasé dans le sang... par des bataillons de volontaires irlandais portant l'uniforme britannique. Pendant cette semaine folle et magnifique malgré le sang versé (une majorité de civils tués par les bombardements anglais: la tactique sera appliquée ailleurs, de Dresde à Bagdad), Pearse proclamera Poblacht na h Eireann, la République d'Irlande... même s'il fut un moment question de monarchie, avec un prince allemand comme Roi d'Irlande, ce qui aurait sans doute évité bien des drames. Au détour des pages, le.lecteur croisera d'autres géants de l'histoire irlandaise: Michael Collins et James Connolly le socialiste, qui fut l'ami du nationaliste Pearse. Tous deux furent fusillés par les Britanniques. L'émotion suscitée par ce meurtre, un crime, mais surtout une faute politique, devait faire passer la population dublinoise au départ hostile aux insurgés dans le camp de la résistance nationale. Du sacrifice de Pearse naquit l'Etat d'Irlande, encore mutilé à ce jour de ses comtés du nord.


Padraig CANAVAN.


Jean MABIRE, Patrick Pearse. une vie pour l'Irlande, Editions Terre et Peuple, BP 1095, F-69612 Villeurbanne cedex, tél: Prix: 85 FF. Sur l'Irlande, lire aussi, de Pierre Joannon, Michaël Collins (Table ronde) et Le Rêve irlandais (Artus), deux évocations passionnantes.