Letter from Thomas MacGreevy to George Yeats. 10 June 1926.[p.1 recto]
15 Cheyne Gardens
10th June 1926.
I was writing works about home and abroad when your card and Lennox's came in last night, and first upset me and then suggested an interpolation, a distortion of On the Green Banks of Shannon a pet / rhyme or ratherpet/rhythm of my youth written by Thomas Campbell or some such person and very silly and very popular. I have been very restless and anxious to get back for weeks past, and ugly as the business part of Limerick is, the river is lovely, and the view looking from the bridge across to the cathedral perfect and the county is beautiful, and the word, so feeling all that, it was no wonder I was upset. Did you go from Gort? I had it in my mind that if I did go home in the autumn via Cherbourg and Cork and the Yeatses were at BallyleeThoor Ballylee, the Norman tower near Lady Gregory's Coole demesne in County Galway and renovated under George Yeats's direction, had been the Yeats's retreat since 1918. we might all meet at Ennis and do Clare Abbey and Quin.The ruins of Clare Abbey are in Clarecastle, just south of Ennis, in County Clare. It was a priory of Canons Regular of St. Augustine from 1189 until about 1650. Quin Friary, just 5 miles from Ennis in County Clare, is a 15th century Franciscan friary built on the ruins of the great thirteenth-century castle of Thomas de Clare, the Anglo-Norman invader of Thomond. It is considered one of the most perfect ruins in Ireland. But France is probably off. Lunn's clientèle know nothing of French history or architecture and prefer alps to royal rivers so there has not been a solitary booking for the LoireMacGreevy worked off and on as a tour guide for Lunn's Travel Agency. Begun by Sir Henry Simpson Lunn after the end of his career as a minister, Lunn's Travel Agency arranged tours to Europe, especially Switzerland and Italy, and Israel. These tours introduced large areas of Switzerland to the English public, increasing the popularity of winter sports. Sir Henry formed the Hellenic Travellers' Club, Alpine Sports Limited, the Church Travellers' Club, and the Free Church Touring Guild. In addition, Lunn's conducted cultural cruises, combining travel with lectures by well-known speakers. His firm has survived into the twenty-first century as Lunn-Poly..
An idea I wanted to consult you about—I have been
reading Valéry's essay on
Leonardo's method again and
wondered whether if it proved to be available for translation it would be
of any use approaching Cuala about it. It
has been an important part of the background to nearly everything that has
been written in France for several years and I should
be interested to put as good English prose as I am capable of on it both on
account of Leonardo and of
Valéry. I rather fear it
will not be available however. V's
prestige is now so [p.2 recto] enormous. Did you ever read the Chansons de Bilitis by Pierre Louys,Chansons de Bilitis, or the Songs
of Bilitis, first appeared in 1894. The volume of poetry was
purported to be translated from poems by a woman named
Bilitis, who was an acquaintance of Sappho, by Pierre Louys. In fact, Louys wrote the poems, which caused a sensation
their supposed ancient origin and their faintly erotic, lesbian
tone. or did W.B. ever meet him?
Bilitis dates from
1895 and is very improper but enchanting. He died last year
and V. wrote a very perfect little
memoir of him. He knew Wilde and
owned the manuscript of
. His wife was a daughter of Hérédía. Valéry is half Italian and married to a
daughter of Berthe Morisot.
No news. I heard a fine performance of
at Covent Garden on Monday night7 June.
The ballet is going to be shockingly dear and Eliot is lost somewhere on the continent of
and so I won't get free seats for at any rate
the opening night. I've had Herbert
Spencer's autobiography to review for the NationMacGreevy's review of An Autobiography appeared in The Nation and Athenaeum on 19 June.
—outrageous—and there was some
story you had about him or Huxley at Brighton
that I could not remember. I have been waiting for your review in the I.S.MacGreevy is referring to Yeats's review of Charlotte
Eliot's Savonarola, which she mentions in her letter of 24 April 1926.
The review seems to have never been published. What a periodical
that is! Worse and worse it gets. I do think the way the Irish Protestants
hold on to little George O'Brien as their one link with
Catholic Ireland is comical to a degree. He's as dead
Gordon and James
Douglas etc. But perhaps the dead are more powerful than the
living though I do not believe it. W.B.
is the last live Irish Protestant. Lennox is live but not impersonally, and he doesn't know what
Protestantism means though he is very Protestant in ways. Who is this
Sean O Faolain?
I hear from Phibbs he has been seen at 82. He may know Irish but he doesn't know much else at present. Love poetry out of the main stream of art.MacGreevy received a poem from Geoffrey Phibbs sometime after 6 June entitled 'Vision.' And Cork prides itself on being a last stronghold of the author of Anthony and Cleopatra and the Sonnets! Oh Una Dix!
to go asked to Ipsden
this week-end but with the editor of the
referring to The
Connoisseur in America and the
acting editor in bed this fortnight back I am in charge of the production of
the July number and as I did not learn how to do the editing in May owing to
the strikeFrom 4 to 12 May 1926 labourers in
England organized a general strike in support
of subsidized wages for miners. The strike involved key industries such
as railways and transportation, construction, printing, and steel and
iron workers. For more information see MacGreevy's letter of 20 May 1926. I am panic
striken and think I had better stay in town and get on with the work. But,
W.B. will be amused to hear, I
pushed in a note
of my own
on James Barry.MacGreevy
wrote about James Barry in the
July 1926 issue of The Connoisseur in the
article "Current Art Notes." So we go on. Write. Love to you all.