Monthly Archives: July 2018
Collection taken in 1970s and returned by ‘anonymous’ was spotted by John Kelly
A collection of unpublished letters written by WB Yeats that was stolen in the 1970s and returned “anonymously” has been identified at Princeton University.
John Kelly, who has spent decades tracking down thousands of Yeats’s letters, discovered the collection as he was concluding research for the latest volume of his work on the Irish poet and dramatist.
Kelly was browsing the catalogue of Princeton University Library, where he had pored over Yeats’s holdings some years earlier, when he spotted a file of 17 letters to the poet’s publisher he had not seen before.
He discovered from the librarian it had been stolen in the 1970s, disappearing without trace until it turned up recently, delivered anonymously in a brown package.
In lieu of my famous last words or
The doctor’s hushed diagnosis
Lifting like a draught from the door
My oracular pages, this
Will have fluttered on to the floor –
The first of my posthumous pieces.
As a sort of accompaniment
Drafted in different-coloured inks
Through several notebooks, this is meant
To read like a riddle from the Sphinx
And not my will and testament –
No matter what anybody thinks.
Two minuses become a plus
When, at the very close of play
And with the minimum of fuss,
I shall permit myself to say:
This is my Opus Posthumous –
An inspiration in its way.
The gulls of Hull
the train pulling out –
a metallic snake
along the estuary
the forceful ghost
of the Hull and the Humber.
Brough, Selby, Doncaster.
How many times
have I sat this way
England, gazing out
at the leafless names
of trees; at cathedrals
I still haven’t seen –
Our inter-city boa
the deepening night –
the wet black roots
of the country.
Suddenly, for some
it falters, then stops –
paralysis of rhythm –
the brooch of a small
in the distance –
the eels and eels
of branching tracks.
O England –
hedge-bound as Larkin
omnivorous as Shakespeare.
Who was it who suggested that the opposite of war
Is not so much peace as civilization? He knew
Our assassinated Catholic greengrocer who died
At Christmas in the arms of our Methodist minister,
And our ice-cream man who continuing requiem
Is the twenty-one flavours children have by heart.
Our cobbler mends shoes for everyone; our butcher
Blends into his best sausages leeks, garlic, honey;
Our cornershop sells everything from bread to kindling.
Who can bring peace to people who are not civilized?
All of these people, alive or dead, are civilized.