Saturday, May 28, 2011

Unregistered occupations, Yeats-mocking, etc.

George Yeats, writing -- not automatically for once -- to W.B. in 1930:
"No newses here but for the thrill of our dustbin being stolen yesterday evening from the pavement between the hours of eightthirty and ten. McCoy was most puzzled this morning when he went out to fetch it in and found nothing to fetch, and filled with vehement righteous indignation when I told him that I had observed on returning home last night at 10.15 that it was not there. He insisted on my telephoning to the police at Lad Lane [...] 'There's a lot of police regulations that are never enforced' says the police at the other end of the telephone 'but there's a regulation that bins shouldnt be put out as early as that.' 'Do you think the police took it' says I. 'O no' says he 'They wouldnt take it. They'd notify.' Then, 'When they take them they generally empty them out on the pavement, did they empty out yours?' 'They did not' says I. 'They must have had a handcart with them' says he. 'Do you mean the Garda would have emptied it out' says I. 'No, the people who take the dustbins' says he; so it is evidently one of the unregistered occupations like the stealing of doormats, washbaskets and umbrellas."
From Don Share's blog. In other Yeatsiana, Ray Davis recently quoted Anne Gregory (subject of this poem) rather delightfully mocking Yeats. Possibly the ne plus ultra of this particular unregistered occupation is that bit about the peacock in one of Pound's cantos:
The Kakemono grows in flat land out of mist
        sun rises lop-sided over the mountain
              so that I recalled the noise in the chimney
as it were the wind in the chimney
              but was in reality Uncle William
downstairs composing
that had made a great Peeeeacock
        in the proide ov his oiye
        had made a great peeeeeeecock in the . . .
made a great peacock
              in the proide of his oyyee

proide ov his oy-ee
as indeed he had, and perdurable

a great peacock aere perennius

By the way, Michael Wood recently quoted Auden (in a longish review of the new vol. of the Prose, of which more later) complaining as he often did that "I sometimes feel that the question “Is this statement true or false?” has never occurred to [Yeats]." (In the Dyer's Hand Auden compares Yeats unfavorably with D.H. Lawrence re sincerity.) The first vol. of Roy Foster's biography of Yeats (and maybe later ones but I haven't read those) lends a lot of support to the notion that Yeats didn't really believe, in the usual sense, in the mythological stuff; he just found the masks useful, and had to keep up the solemnity to sustain the mood (hence the general sense that he was pompous and affected). He was a bore by choice, unlike (say) Auden and Wordsworth who were bores by nature.

(On Auden as a bore see Alan Bennett. Or for that matter read as much as you can of that horrid little book on Auden's Table Talk. It is the only book I know that is almost as bad as its Richard Howard introduction. (The link is to a prev. post about Richard Howard's introductions.))

I have never read, or wanted to read, a biography of Auden or a critical/expository work by Yeats (I am interested in anecdotes about both, however), but am endlessly fascinated by the thought of the one and the life of the other.

(A few miscellaneous notes. 1. I introduced someone to Peter Porter. 2. In a comment on yesterday's post Jenny Davidson suggested that "hierarchy" probably implies priesthood; this would make sense of the "order" -- as in monastic order -- of people who believe in intrinsic value. I don't think one can make complete sense of Hill's answers, treated as answers -- he seems to be conflating the questions, "what entities should a poet enter into an imaginative relationship with?" and "whom should a poet write for?" -- but I think he is just ignoring the second question. 3. I greatly enjoyed this book review by Keith Ridgway in the Irish Times.)

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