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Passion and Cunning: An Essay on the Politics of W. B. Yeats

  • Conor Cruise O’Brien

Abstract

The day the news of Yeats’s death reached Dublin I was lunching with my mother’s sister, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington. Hanna was the widow of Frank Skeffington, pacifist and socialist, who had been murdered on the orders of a British officer, Bowen-Colthurst, in Easter Week 1916. She was not consistently a pacifist; she was an Irish revolutionary; Madame MacBride and Countess Markievicz were among her close political friends, Countess Markievicz being, however, politically the closer. Physically she looked a little like Queen Victoria and — a comparison that would have pleased her better — a little like Krupskaya. Mentally she was extremely and variously alert. Her conversation, when politics were not the theme, was relaxed, humorous and widely tolerant of human eccentricity; when politics were the theme she always spoke very quietly and economically, with a lethal wit and a cutting contempt for ‘moderates’ and compromisers. Hers was the kind of Irish mind which Yeats could call — when he felt it to be on his side — ‘cold’, ‘detonating’, ‘Swiftian’, or when — as in this case — it was not on his side, ‘bitter’, ‘abstract’, ‘fanatical’.1

Keywords

Irish People Hunger Strike Irish Time Free State Force Practical Politics 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1965

Authors and Affiliations

  • Conor Cruise O’Brien

There are no affiliations available

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