Breithlá Sona, Maud Gonne!

Maud Gonne

Happy Birthday to the Irish revolutionary and feminist activist, Maud Gonne! Born 21 December 1866 in Tongham, England, Gonne is perhaps best known for her turbulent “relationship” with poet William Butler Yeats, who penned much of his lyrical, romantic work with Gonne as his muse. Won over to the cause of Irish independence from British subjugation by the plight of evicted landowners, and by her relationship with politician Lucien Millevoye, Gonne was working for the release of Irish political prisoners when she first met Yeats in 1889, who promptly fell in love with her. Over the next decade or so, she would turn down multiple proposals of marriage by the lovesick poet, viewing him as insufficiently radical in his Irish nationalism. Gonne also believed Yeats’ unrequited love for her was a windfall to his career as a poet, asserting:

” … you make beautiful poetry out of what you call your unhappiness and are happy in that. Marriage would be such a dull affair. Poets should never marry. The world should thank me for not marrying you.”

While many of Yeats most known and enduring works on the subject of love and longing were written with Maud Gonne in mind, the following is one I find of interest today.

Wild Swans at Coole by http://kaycullenpainting.com

Wild Swans at Coole by http://kaycullenpainting.com

A Song
(from The Wild Swans at Coole, William Butler Yeats, 1919)

I thought no more was needed
Youth to prolong
Than dumb-bell and foil
To keep the body young.
O who could have foretold
That the heart grows old?

Though I have many words,
What woman’s satisfied,
I am no longer faint
Because at her side?
O who could have foretold
That the heart grows old?

I have not lost desire
But the heart that I had;
I thought ‘twould burn my body
Laid on the death-bed,
O who could have foretold
That the heart grows old?

William Butler Yeats


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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