Showing posts with label WB Yeats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WB Yeats. Show all posts

Saturday 31 August 2019

The Pen is Really Mightier than the Sword

ITom Paine’s pamphlets made the American Revolution. Without his words there would have been no victory – His ideas reflected Enlightenment ideals of transnational human rights.Common Sense was so influential that John Adams said: "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain". (Rights of Man 1791/ Common Sense 1776) 

WB Yeats – 
Yeats gave the Irish ‘who they were’ before the endless fighting. He elevated the old heroes and gave the political expression of the people.
Nations are not about lines. Every people need their myths. There is “no fine nation without literature and no fine literature without nationality.” 

Robert Burns
No one wrote poetry like Burns. After reading Tom Paine’s 'Rights of Man', he wrote the best loved poem that speaks of equality for all - "A  Mans A Man For A That." Burns was a radical who wrote about equal rights for all men regardless of rank.  He also wrote , the Liberty Tree, The Slaves Lament, Parcel of Rogues to the Nation. 

Poet Hugh MacDiarmid wanted to write of a Scottish voice – his best known poem is ‘The Drunk man talked to the Scottish Thistle.
George Buchannan, tutor to James VI, wrote thatall political power resides in the people, and it must reside in the people: and that it is lawful and necessary to resist kings (or queens, or we might say all rulers) if (or when) they become tyrants.

A short distance from my home there is a monument in the small town of KiIlearn to one of the most important writers on democracy, reformer George Buchanan. He was one of the most significant literary and political figures of the 16th century -  poet, playwright, historian, humanist scholar, and teacher to the great French essayist Michel de Montagne, Mary Queen of Scots and later to her son James VI of Scotland and I of England (United Kingdom.)Buchanan was a native Gaelic speaker from lower loch Lomond. He was deeply impressed that the Gael had held on to their language and culture for more than two thousand years. He was a Catholic, who was committed himself to the Reformation and he joined the Reformed Protestant church in 1560s and published several books.

Are we in danger of loosing cultural confidence. In todays world of turmoil we are  loosing sight of what really matters. We have false and shallow leaders who blow with whatever wind is blowing – they have no backbone, morals or compassion.

Pen Not Guns,  We need new stories. 

Saturday 30 April 2016

WB Yeats: Revolution of the mind

WB Yeats 
Revolution of the mind

Songs and imagining the immigration myths - There is no free state without Yeats.  Ireland does not exist without the Poet.

Excellent TV program recently about the Irish poet WB Yeats narrated by Bob Geldof.
Yeats became the Irish National Poet. He looked at the old myths and stories and wanted to write of the spirit and voice of Ireland. He had a vision of a pluralistic, tolerant Ireland that prevails today. 

He was a Protestant born in Dublin.  His father was  a barrister and his mother’s family were from Sligo Ireland which they visited often and where he learned of the myths and magic tales from the servants.
He later lived in London where he Oscar Wilde and other writers and poets. There he also met his muse, Maude Gonne, who was a revolutionary for a free Ireland.

He believed in the arts, poetry and in the sovereignty of intellect and the mind.
His work was about the celebration of pro Ireland NOT what Ireland is against and to celebrate Irishness – rather than oppose England.

He wrote “No fine nation without literature and no fine literature without nationality.
He dreamed of a modern, tolerant nation that was open and pluralistic .  He wanted to tear down the idols of the market place. And he knew that nations are not about lines – and that every people need their myths.

Yeats gave the Irish ‘who they were’ before the endless fighting. Yeats elevated the old heroes – political expression of a people. – Pens not guns.

Meanwhile in Scotland in 1780 a Robert Burnes
also wrote of the old stories and collected the old songs around Scotland, from the borders to the highlands. He too became the core and poetic voice of a true and honest Scottish voice. 
In 1920s after WW1 in Montrose, as part of a Scottish Renaissance there, another poet Hugh MacDiarmid took up this mantel again and he too wrote in both Scots and English – drawing on the past stories and imagining the Scotland of the future.  He was one of the visionary poets that began the Scottish national civic movement.