EchoesTwisting the handle of a pump in County Galway
watching water run cool from chalky depths,
knowing it seeped once from an earth-crack
near to the Gort Forge; if I drink it
will I become a greying Fascist?
Watching the wrinkled old and ravished young
stumbling across a line in Macedonia, most
clutching momentous, inconsequential plastic bags,
all caught for saddened delectation by CNN
and busloads of other writhing maggots, I think not.
The world went dewy-eyed about Yeats decades ago; T.S. Eliot's reputation still suffers from suggestions of anti-Semitism (perhaps justified); Yeats, who has become a huge dollar-earner for Ireland (which would not admit German Jewish children before the Second World War) has been let off the hook, despite having written some 'marching songs' (which were never used - they weren't as catchy as the 'Horst Wessel Song') for General Eoin O'Duffy's 'Blueshirts', a quasi-fascist political movement in Ireland which sent volunteers to fight for Franco in Spain and worshipped Hitler and Mussolini. Yeats lauded the Irish 'peasant' but in a most condescending way; his preference was for the aristocracy; he despised the urban working class (see his poem 'To a Wealthy Man' where he snorts that working men can rise no further than playing 'pitch and toss' and each working-class women is merely a 'biddy'; if you are reading this, and are not Irish, get in touch with a working-class Dublin woman and ask her how she would feel even now being called a 'biddy').