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Letter from Thomas MacGreevy to George Yeats. 16 August 1926.

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16th August, 1926.

Dear George,

A young man who has just left began a poem Yo-hee, Bruges and I think it has the right air of condescension, but Bruges is worth a glance all the sameMacGreevy spent the month of August in Bruges working as a tour guide for Henry Lunnnote. I suppose you haven't seen it. Its the most indecently prettified place and pittoresque to the last degree. However I get out of it. I lecture three mornings a week and only on Bruges — not on every hillock round as in Lucerne. But as a matter of fact there are no hillocks. There is a small mound as high above the plain as the top of Grafton StreetGrafton Street is the main shopping street in Dublinnote above the bottom, but its an hour and a quarter's train journey at Denderléuw on the way to Brussels. I have seen Brussels and Antwerp. The latter I liked very much and [p.1 verso]they have a lovely Titian there, probably not so lovely intrinsically as it seemed in such surroundings, though I enjoyed the Flemish people there. The cathedral is really good and the RubensPeter Paul Rubens painted three three large paintings for The Antwerp Cathedral of our Lady, 'Descent from the Cross' (1612), 'Elevation of the Cross' (1610) and the 'Resurrection Triptych' (1612)note a magnificent effort for him. And he has a delightful Assumption over the High Altar. I went with Anglaises from the hotel — not LunnersFrom 1925-1927 MacGreevy worked as a tour guide for the Lunn Travel Agencynote — the young poet just going up to Oxford his brother an officer in the Indian army and their uncle. We took a car, lit on a mad driver, had numerous accidents, bad tempers — the young military creature though only 23 and a pet felt it was up to him to be military when we lay in a ditch two feet deep, the old uncle too feeble to climb out of the car the locks having caught and the driver outside in convulsions of laughter saying "Wot you tink, how we get out of this". However it was a grand day and we crossed the Scheldt in the ferry still sitting in our car &c. and in the evening all happy, feeling that at least I'd had an adventurous day [p.2 recto]in the flattest of W. European countries. The idea of my coming to Belgium every year is off — Thank God, Thank God. But Italy is suggested instead. I gave myself three years away from Dublin, but I imagine I wouldn't get on the board of the National GalleryThe Irish art critic Thomas Bodkin served on the Board of the National Gallery of Irelandnote even if I knew Italy backwards. However its not what I'm after —

I'm glad you thought the poem was improvedMacGreevy is probably referring to the poem 'Crón Tráth na nDéithe'note. I agree too about your thinking it was too multiple but perhaps if I gave it a multiple title such as Variations on a theme, or left the present title and numbered the variations it would be all right or at any rate better. EliotEliot was editor of The Criterion at the timenote has it. I had a long conversible with him one day before I came away. He had been seeing Poundses in Paris — Mrs Eliot being in a nursing home near there but likely to [p.2 verso]be well soon he seemed to think. Mrs. Shakespeare was in Paris too apparently. Eliot didn't look too grand but said he was practically right again. He was gay for him and a little fatherly which was delightful of him. Of course I gave off yards about everything but he was very patient, a Unitarian Athenian, very Unitarian but more Athenian, a potent grave and reverend pet.

Then I saw bruiser CooperRefers to Bryan Cooper (1884-1930), T.D. whom MacGreevy disliked. He was angry that W.B. appeared on a platform in Rathmines with Andrew Jameson and Captain Stephen Gwynn in support of Cooper's election campaign in August 1923. His play Let the Credit Go was produced at the Abbey Theatre in 1930; his biography by Lennox Robinson was published in 1931.note just as I was going into the Connoisseur a day or two before I came away. There if you like is an object of my animosity (if I have such a thing outside of ideas) Yet you tell me a nice woman has married him. Maraviglia, Thank God there aren't many Anglo Irish or even native Irish like him. Why do you think I'm hostile to the A. Is. I do think their work is done, and I think they are getting patriotic in the bad sense — Lennox's playRobinson's play, The Big House (which George Yeats liked very much), opened at the Abbey 6 September 1926note is one of the signs but I am not animossy. I hope for his sake that play will [p.3 recto]be a success, but for itself, well I know Mrs Dermod O'Brien will approve of it, and what more is there to say. Besides its so cruel to the DuncansMacGreevy is reading the characters in Robinson's play as the O'Neills = Duncans, and Alcock= Sir Horace Plunkett; on the other hand Robinson himself makes it clear in a note that the character of Kate Alcock is modelled on Mary Spring Ricenote, and the whole St. JoanBernard Shaw's Saint Joan, first produced in 1924, became one of his most popular plays.note influence in it could not but make me suspicious of it. However I hope he won't be disappointed. I wrote and told him to drop politics and be personal, to tell the truth about the girls return from London, that she was dismissed from the paper she was on &c, not that she had come back to Sir Horace' & all that. His answer was something to the effect that I thought exactly what if he had succeeded in doing what he set out to do I ought to have thought. Which seemed too horribly pathetic. Of course I tried to make it clear and I hope succeeded that I wrote out of good will, that I wanted it to be a fine play on its own merits and his letter back was quite gentle. He also said it was the most personal play he had written
[p.3 verso] since The Round Table!Robinson's play The Round Table was first produced at the Abbey Theatre in January 1922note As for the O'Neill's, Ellie seems to be dying, Jim is leaving Lunn's. Alan has been given another three months job, this year at Tours. So much for their success as expatriates. I really am bothered about that play Sorry for harping on it. I hope your eyes are all right that 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.note has done you some good and that you are coming to London soon. I'll be back there on Saturday. How are Michael and Anne? A small girl on the seat beside me has just had a fall, & set up a pillaloo. I gave her 15 centimes & now her pretty little brother is making sheeps eyes at me and as he obviously takes after the Latin side not the ugly looking Flemish side of the family I suppose he'll have to have 25. There is a bookseller here who is converted — or reverted to Catholicism and he [rams?] Thomist casuistries down my throat at an incredible rate. Its not easy in my halting French to

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steer straight but he knows I am not yet caught, which is success considering the difficulties of arguing in a foreign tongue. When will W.B. come to London?

Regards to you all ever.