Background to Rebels and Friends:

Poems of Yeats and Eva Gore Booth

In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth

and Con Markiewicz

 

The light of evening, Lissadell,

Great windows open to the south,

Two girls in silk kimonos, both

Beautiful, one a gazelle.

But a raving autumn shears

Blossom from the summer’s wreath;

The older is condemned to death,

Pardoned, drags out lonely years

Conspiring among the ignorant.

I know not what the younger dreams –

Some vague utopia – and she seems,

When withered old and skeleton-gaunt,

An image of such politics.

Many a time I think to seek

One or the other out and speak

Of that old Georgian mansion, mix

Pictures of the mind, recall

That table and the talk of youth,

Two girls in silk kimonos, both

Beautiful, one a gazelle.

 

Dear shadows, now you know it all,

All the folly of a fight

With a common wrong or right.

The innocent and the beautiful

Have no enemy but time;

Arise and bid me strike a match

And strike another until time catch;

Should the conflagration climb,

Run till all the sages know.

We the great gazebo built,

They convicted us of guilt;

Bid me strike a match and blow.

 

William Butler Yeats

October 1927

 

Easter Week

 

Grief for the noble dead

Of one who did not share their strife,

And mourned that any blood was shed,

Yet felt the broken glory of their state,

Their strange heroic questioning of Fate

Ribbon with gold the rags of this our life.

 

Eva Gore-Booth

from Broken Glory

Heroic Death, 1916

 

No man shall deck their resting place with flowers;

Behind a prison wall they stood to die,

Yet in those flowerless tragic graves of ours

Buried, the broken dreams of Ireland lie.

 

No cairn-heaped mound on a high windy hill

With Irish earth the hero’s heart enfolds,

But a burning grave at Pentonville,

The broken heart of Ireland holds.

 

Ah! ye who slay the body, how man’s soul

Rises above your hatred and your scorns –

All flowers fade as the years onward roll,

Theirs is the deathless wreath – a crown of thorns.

 

Eva Gore-Booth

from Broken Glory

To C. M. on Her Prison Birthday,

February 1917

 

What has time to do with thee,

Who hast found the victor’s way

To be rich in poverty,

Without sunshine to be gay,

To be free in a prison cell?

Nay on that undreamed judgment day,

When on the old world’s scrap-heap flung,

Powers and empires pass away,

Radiant and unconquerable

Thou shalt be young.

 

Eva Gore-Booth

from Broken Glory

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