Letter from George Yeats to Thomas MacGreevy. 24 April 1926.[p.1 recto]
April 24 1926
My dear Tom.
How nice of you to send me the Valery;Eupalinos by Valery. thank you ever so much and then a little more. I am not going to read it yet, not till I go down to Ballylee on May 15. There is a fearful lot to be done and I am so tired, and so cross.... I want to keep those phrases so beautifully measured and that thought so whittled into precision, until I am a little measured and whittled!! Not that I am ever really either, but I shall have a whole month without the children and Willy will be content and happy and well at Ballylee and so I shall have all the day to frolic in. It is so impossible to read when any moment some one may dash in to ask a question, or the children yell and quarrel, or are ill and have to have their hands held and hot bottles put to their feet, and continual surprises thought out for them, for like their male parent a "surprise" makes them quite well - or happy - for at least... three hours.
Nice of you to ask to see that rotten play, but you never will. I finished it and it finished me.No play by Yeats has been discovered. I have another in my head, more "ambitious" (I seem to hear that phrase as a commonplace of reviewers) with a theme more like to myself and what intrigues me. The one I wrote to you of was so impersonal that I was rather proud of having done it, one got a sort of freedom, but it was really to punk for words.
AE has given me two rotten books to review.... A Savonarola by "Mrs Charlotte Eliot" with a clumsy introduction by T.S. Eliot...... [p.2 recto]I cant imagine why he did it, but perhaps the author is his mother or his sister.. I dont think a man would write a preface to a bad book for his wife.Charlotte C Eliot, mother of T S Eliot, was the author of Savonarola: A Dramatic Poem (London: R. Cobden-Sanderson, 1926); Yeats's review does not seem to have been published in The Irish Statesman. Its New England tract with a substratum of history... very little... and is written in incredibly bad rhymed verse that smacks of blank verse too.
I told AE I had suggested you sent that poem which he had praised to Willy and me.... he so extensively committed himself before he knew whose it was.... Is he so personal as all that?? I am curious to know what he has written to you about it.
We dined with the O'HigginsesAlthough Kevin O'Higgins residence was in Blackrock, his office was in Merrion Square around the corner from the Yeatses' home. last night, but it was just pleasant and a little dull... The O'Neills - Joe and the White HeronJoseph and Mary O'Neill regularly held a Thursday 'at home' in Rathgar which W. B. Yeats frequently attended, where he and Mrs. O'Neill discussed the philosophy of A Vision, possibly the origin of Yeats's nickname for her, the 'White Heron' or 'White Herring.' - were there, and the mantle of officialdom fell upon them and us...Joe couldnt be natural.. it was his first personal encounter with O'H, for they meet of course continually in the Government Buildings, but apparently haven't done it socially before! A very queer dinner. Willy said afterwards "the soup was good but wer'nt there rather a series of broken meats?" And then there were two sweets that came up one after the other, the second when one was expecting a savoury, for one's plate had been cleared... but it was simple and rather nice and no one fussed or bothered. Then after dinner during a momentary silence O'Higgins said in his slow solemn way as though really seeking information and apropos of nothing at all... "Why didnt A.E. go into the Senate?" At which after a momentary struggle we & the O'Neills giggled wildly.. And O'H said "I see" But what he saw God knows. One couldnt say why one thought he hadnt with SusanSusan Langstaff Mitchell, poet, wit and sub-editor of The Irish Statesman, was one of AE's closest friends and a strong nationalist who disapproved of the establishment of the Irish Free state. so recently dead. They've the most adorable old house with an enchanting [p.3 recto]garden, and a large solemn child exactly like himself, who shook hands with Willy with just the little bow that father does it with. Its female and about 2 years and eight months and talks and walks perfectly. It was kept up for Willy to see! I had seen it before. It's huge, with enormous legs and head and round blueish eyes and fairish terribly straight hair and a great bulgey forhead. Its father nearly forgot to put it on the census, and then when he was putting in the nurse ... "I thought, why have we got a nurse and then I remembered Maeve..."
Time all this gossip stopped!