Wednesday, December 10, 2008

96 Years Ago

Reading through a selection of works of W.B. Yeats, I re-encountered this poem from 1912 that seemed of relevance to current events:

TO A WEALTHY MAN WHO PROMISED A SECOND SUBSCRIPTION TO THE DUBLIN MUNICIPAL GALLERY IF IT WERE PROVED THE PEOPLE WANTED PICTURES

You gave but will not give again
Until enough of Paudeen's pence
By Biddy's halfpennies have lain
To be "some sort of evidence,"
Before you'll put your guineas down,
That things it were a pride to give
Are what the blind and ignorant town
Imagines best to make it thrive.
What cared Duke Ercole, that bid
His mummers to the market place,
What th’ onion-sellers thought or did
So that his Plautus set the pace
For the Italian comedies?
And Guidobaldo, when he made
That grammar school of courtesies
Where wit and beauty learned their trade
Upon Urbino's windy hill,
Had sent no runners to and fro
That he might learn the shepherds' will. p. 194
And when they drove out Cosimo,
Indifferent how the rancour ran,
He gave the hours they had set free
To Michelozzo's latest plan
For the San Marco Library,
Whence turbulent Italy should draw
Delight in Art whose end is peace,
In logic and in natural law
By sucking at the dugs of Greece.

Your open hand but shows our loss,
For he knew better how to live.
Let Paudeens play at pitch and toss,
Look up in the sun's eye and give
What the exultant heart calls good
That some new day may breed the best
Because you gave, not what they would
But the right twigs for an eagle's nest!

--December 1912

Labels:

3 Comments:

Blogger joy said...

Look up in the sun's eye and give
What the exultant heart calls good
That some new day may breed the best



Sigh....

12/10/2008 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny to think this poem was written four years after the season Terrance McKnight was describing on tonight's Evening Music. The show focused on Elliot Carter's life, work and his 100th birthday celebration. Worth streaming if you are looking for good sound at work.

peace.

12/12/2008 12:04:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

look ye and despair
Early each day to the steps of Saint Paul's
The little old bird woman comes.
In her own special way to the people she calls,
"Come, buy my bags full of crumbs.
Come feed the little birds, show them you care
And you'll be glad if you do.
Their young ones are hungry,
Their nests are so bare;
All it takes is tuppence from you."
Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.
"Feed the birds," that's what she cries,
While overhead, her birds fill the skies.
All around the cathedral the saints and apostles
Look down as she sells her wares.
Although you can't see it, you know they are smiling
Each time someone shows that he cares.
Though her words are simple and few,
Listen, listen, she's calling to you:
"Feed the birds, tuppence a bag,
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag."

12/12/2008 04:35:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home