After long ringing the maidservant opened the door1 and told me that Lady Gregory had gone to church with her niece; Mr Yeats was composing.2 Would I take a seat in the drawing-room and wait till he was finished? He must have heard the wheels of the car coming round the gravel sweep, for he was in the room before the servant left it—enthusiastic, though a little weary. He had written five lines and a half, and a pause between one’s rhymes is an excellent thing, he said. One could not but admire him, for even in early morning he was convinced of the importance of literature in our national life. He is nearly as tall as a Dublin policeman, and preaching literature he stood on the hearthrug, his feet set close together. Lifting his arms above his head (the very movement that Raphael gives to Paul when preaching at Athens), he said what he wanted to do was to gather up a great mass of speech. It did not seem to me clear why he should be at pains to gather up a great mass of speech to write so exiguous a thing as The Shadowy Waters;3 but we live in our desires rather than in our achievements, and Yeats talked on, telling me that he was experimenting, and did not know whether his play would come out in rhyme or in blank verse; he was experimenting.
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- 20.W.B. Yeats, The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, 1889).Google Scholar
- 21.W.B. Yeats, The Countess Kathleen and Various Legends and Lyrics ( London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1891 ).Google Scholar
- 22.W.B. Yeats, The Wind among the Reeds ( London: Elkin Mathews, 1899 ).Google Scholar