In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz

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In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz is a poem in two stanzas by William Butler Yeats, written in 1927 and published in his 1933 collection 'e ee (née Gore-Booth) were two sisters who lived at Lissadell House in County Sligo. Constance (Con) died in 1927, and Eva in 1926. The young Yeats had been encouraged by them and entranced by their beauty. They are remembered in the poem as "Two girls in silk kimonos, both / beautiful, one a gazelle." Both later became involved in Irish nationalist politics, and Constance was sentenced to death for her part in the Easter Rising of 1916, though the sentence was subsequently commuted.[1] Eva later became active in the Women's suffrage movement in Manchester, England.[2]

In the poem, Yeats laments the loss, not only of their physical beauty, but of their spiritual beauty – their later politics were far removed from the romantic ideal of Ireland that he had had in their youth.[1] The second stanza speaks of the futility of their struggle, both his and the sisters', when the real enemy is time itself: "The innocent and the beautiful / have no enemy but time."[1]

Poem[edit]

The light of evening, Lissadell,

Great windows open to the south,

Two girls in silk kimonos, both

Beautiful, one a gazelle.

But a raving autumn shears

Blossom from the summer's wreath;

The older is condemned to death,

Pardoned, drags out lonely years

Conspiring among the ignorant.

I know not what the younger dreams -

Some vague Utopia - and she seems,

When withered old and skeleton-gaunt,

An image of such politics.

Many a time I think to seek

One or the other out and speak

Of that old Georgian mansion, mix

pictures of the mind, recall

That table and the talk of youth,

Two girls in silk kimonos, both

Beautiful, one a gazelle.


Dear shadows, now you know it all,

All the folly of a fight

With a common wrong or right.

The innocent and the beautiful.

Have no enemy but time;

Arise and bid me strike a match

And strike another till time catch;

Should the conflagration climb,

Run till all the sages know.

We the great gazebo built,

They convicted us of guilt;

Bid me strike a match and blow.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Brett, R.L. (1997). Faith and Doubt. James Clarke & Co. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-227-67941-8. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  2. ^ Eva Selina Gore-Booth, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography