Tag Archives: William Butler Yeats

A Writer’s Notebook-Maud Gonne MacBride

Maud Gonne MacBride (Irish: Maud Nic Ghoinn Bean Mhic Giolla Bhríde, 21 December 1866 – 27 April 1953) was an English-born Irish revolutionary, feminist and actress, best remembered for her turbulent relationship with William Butler Yeats. Of Anglo-Irish stock and birth, she was won over to Irish nationalism by the plight of evicted people in the Land Wars. She was also active in Home Rule activities.


Many of Yeats’s poems are inspired by her, or mention her, such as ‘This, This Rude Knocking.’ He wrote the plays The Countess Cathleen and Cathleen Ní Houlihan for her. His poem Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven ends with a reference to her:

I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Few poets have celebrated a woman’s beauty to the extent Yeats did in his lyric verse about Gonne. From his second book to Last Poems, she became the Rose, Helen of Troy (in No Second Troy), the Ledaean Body (Leda and the Swan and Among School Children), Cathleen Ní Houlihan, Pallas Athene and Deirdre.

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The Sleeping Wood

Fairytales are magical, I loved reading them as a child, and now I enjoy them as an adult. The below is from a book I have long loved.

‘Ah, it was lovely in the Sleeping Wood with the budding trees all around, and you with your secret thoughts flowering so that it seemed you held a posy in your hands! And in the middle of an ash grove, where the long sun rays fell slanting, the prince of her dreams came cantering on his snowy steed with shining armour and a red plume flaunted . . .  Only when the dazzlement had gone from her eyes it turned out to be no more than Patrick Creegan, the miller’s boy, on a shaggy donkey, and both of them dusted white with mealies.’

I can see a moral in this story . . .

One of my favourite poems to share with you:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

William Butler Yeats 

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for honey-bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore:

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

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My Writing Journey

As promised the next verse of The Song of Wandering Aengus  by William Butler Yeates:

When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire a-flame,

But something rustled on the floor,

And some one called me by my name:

It had become a glimmering girl

With apple blossom in her hair

Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air.

Aengus, patron diety of young women and men,  was the Celtic god of love, beauty  and of youth. His words were as sweet as honey, attracting bees and birds. He fell deeply in love with a beautiful girl he saw in a dream and passed through many trials, including turning himself into a swan, to win her love. The poet William Butler Yeats immortalised his search in  The Song of Wandering Aengus, a song based on the Celtic folktale.

Next week I will give you the last verse of the song and I will write why the song is one of enchantment for me.

This past week has been busy with Christmas celebrations. I did not write a new chapter for my WIP as I had planned, instead I edited and  researched earlier chapters. I also decided to write a short story about an interesting true life happening that I read about some years ago. I might not love the story enough to write a novel about it! If the short story is all I hope it will be I will then decide if I want to develop it further. I won’t discuss it as I find other people’s opinions can sometimes influence a writer’s perception of a story in the early writing stage.  This coming week is also a busy one with New Year’s celebrations. I will endevour to write the new chapter of my WIP.  It’s the last chapter (with a few chapters in the middle to write) and I can’t wait to read it when it’s finished! I am more than happy to email you privately if you have any questions regarding writing that I don’t cover in my blog. I always answer comments and have been in touch by email with people who have written to me, it’s great to correspond with people from all over the world.   Every happiness for the New Year to you and your loved ones and I wish you lots of good writing, best, Elise



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