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Letter from Thomas MacGreevy to George Yeats. 28 August 1926.

[p.1 recto]

at 15 Cheyne Gdns,
S.W. 3

Dearest George

A work herewith. I don't know whether it is finished or not. I thought it wasn't but I don't at present see much use in trying to get it into rhyme. What do you think? Lennox volunteered the statement that the new play wasn't yours.[MacGreevy received letters from Robinson that may have had this on 1/8 (TCD MS 8103/131), 19/8 (TCD MS 8103/133), 21/8 (TCD MS 8103/133), 27/8 (TCD MS 8103 134).] The play he is referring to is Mr. Murphy's Island, a play by Elizabeth Healy, daughter of Tim Healy, who had written under the pseudonym 'Elizabeth Harte', produced at the Abbey Theatre 15 August 1926. Yeats would claim "all of Dublin thinks [she wrote]!" in her letter to MacGreevy of 9 September 1926note I got back last SaturdayMacGreevy returned to London from Bruges on 21 August where he was working as a tour guide for Lunn's Travel Agencynote — horrid crossing. Your London is very nice in a sunny August. I am seeing nobody which is rather like a holiday. The house here is empty except for Constant Lambert and his bloodiest of pianos and his restless and silly music. But I don't see him. I grow more misanthropical. A very Thomist young priest tells me that St Thomas's friends called him Fat Tom as you called me once, so now I am completely reconciled to Thomism!

Do write — my love to you all

Tom .

[p.2 recto] BOSCH A woman with no face stepped out of the gloom
A boy's ghost in a brown tree suit holding on without hands to her seaming skirt
She stopped before the line of shadows opposite
"The books and the park should be opened" she said mournfully
They stirred in the gloom
But one who had seemed dead half rose out of his effigy on the tomb
And they moved away a little
He seemed to begin to speak to her
But the nursery governor flew up out of the well of Saint Patrick
With his head bent
He stared out over his spectacles
Flapping his wings
And scratching the gravel furiously
He hissed—the words raced past his spectacles—
"Say nothing, I say, say nothing, say nothing."
So he who seemed to be coming to life
With a gesture of impotent and almost petulant despair
Sank back into his effigy
From high above the Bank of Ireland unearthly music sounded
Passing westwards
And from the drains small sewage rats slipped softly up
They numbered hundreds of hundreds, tens, thousands
But each bowed obsequiously to the ghosts
Then joined in a stomach dance with his brothers and sisters
Being a multitude they danced irregularly
There was rat laughter
Deeper here and there and occasionally she-rat cries grew hysterical
The ghosts stared in agony
The woman with no face collapsed and the rats danced on her smirking
The nursery governor flew back into the well
With the little ghost without hands in the brown tree clothes

Hieronymus van Aeken usually known as Bosch from his birthplace Hertogenbosch, Netherlandish painter of grotesque subjects, born c. 1460, died 1518. Philip II of Spain was a serious student of his work, there are important pictures by him at the Prado (as well as at Brussels and Antwerp), and Goya may have derived from him. The poem is not based on any one picture. It is merely an exercise in his manner.