Sunday, July 06, 2008

My dear A.E.

I dedicate this book to you because, whether you
think it well or ill written, you will sympathize with the sorrows
and the ecstasies of its personages, perhaps even more than I do
myself. Although I wrote these stories at different times and in
different manners, and without any definite plan, they have but one
subject, the war of spiritual with natural order; and how can I
dedicate such a book to anyone but to you, the one poet of modern
Ireland who has moulded a spiritual ecstasy into verse? My friends in
Ireland sometimes ask me when I am going to write a really national
poem or romance, and by a national poem or romance I understand them
to mean a poem or romance founded upon some famous moment of Irish
history, and built up out of the thoughts and feelings which move the
greater number of patriotic Irishmen. I on the other hand believe
that poetry and romance cannot be made by the most conscientious
study of famous moments and of the thoughts and feelings of others,
but only by looking into that little, infinite, faltering, eternal
flame that we call ourselves. If a writer wishes to interest a
certain people among whom he has grown up, or fancies he has a duty
towards them, he may choose for the symbols of his art their legends,
their history, their beliefs, their opinions, because he has a right
to choose among things less than himself, but he cannot choose among
the substances of art. So far, however, as this book is visionary it
is Irish for Ireland, which is still predominantly Celtic, has
preserved with some less excellent things a gift of vision, which has
died out among more hurried and more successful nations: no shining
candelabra have prevented us from looking into the darkness, and when
one looks into the darkness there is always something there.


1 comment:

CAP said...

On a bit of a Yeats tip lately, eh Jacques?