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According to my Lunar parable, he was a man of the
twenty-third Phase, a man whose subjective lives--for a constant return to
our life is a part of my dream--were over, who must not pursue an image,
but fly from it, all that subjective dreaming, that had once been power
and joy, now corrupting within him. He had to take the first plunge into
the world beyond himself, the first plunge away from himself that is
always pure technique, the delight in doing, not because one would or
should, but merely because one can do.

He once said to me, "a man has to bring up his family and be as virtuous
as is compatible with so doing, and if he does more than that he is a
puritan; a dramatist has to express his subject and to find as much
beauty as is compatible with that, and if he does more he is an aesthete,"
that is to say, he was consciously objective. Whenever he tried to write
drama without dialect he wrote badly, and he made several attempts,
because only through dialect could he escape self-expression, see all that
he did from without, allow his intellect to judge the images of his mind
as if they had been created by some other mind. His objectivity was,
however, technical only, for in those images paraded all the desires of
his heart. He was timid, too shy for general conversation, an invalid and
full of moral scruple, and he was to create now some ranting braggadocio,
now some tipsy hag full of poetical speech, and now some young man or girl
full of the most abounding health. He never spoke an unkind word, had
admirable manners, and yet his art was to fill the streets with rioters,
and to bring upon his dearest friends enemies that may last their
lifetime.

No mind can engender till divided into two, but that of a Keats or a
Shelley falls into an intellectual part that follows, and a hidden
emotional flying image, whereas in a mind like that of Synge the emotional
part is dreaded and stagnant, while the intellectual part is a clear
mirror-like technical achievement.

But in writing of Synge I have run far ahead, for in 1896 he was but one
picture among many. I am often astonished when I think that we can meet
unmoved some person, or pass some house, that in later years is to bear a
chief part in our life. Should there not be some flutter of the nerve or
stopping of the heart like that Macgregor experienced at the first meeting
with a phantom?


XX

Many pictures come before me without date or order. I am walking somewhere
near the Luxembourg Gardens when Synge, who seldom generalises and only
after much thought, says, "There are three things any two of which have
often come together but never all three; ecstasy, asceticism, austerity; I
wish to bring all three together."

* * * * *

I notice that Macgregor considers William Sharp vague and sentimental,
while Sharp is repelled by Macgregor's hardness and arrogance. William
Sharp met Macgregor in the Louvre, and said, "No doubt considering your
studies you live upon milk and fruit." And Macgregor replied, "No, not
exactly milk and fruit, but very nearly so;" and now Sharp has lunched
with Macgregor and been given nothing but brandy and radishes.

* * * * *

Macgregor is much troubled by ladies who seek spiritual advice, and one
has called to ask his help against phantoms who have the appearance of
decayed corpses, and try to get into bed with her at night. He has driven
her away with one furious sentence, "Very bad taste on both sides."

* * * * *

I am sitting in a Café with two French Americans, one in the morning,
while we are talking wildly, and some are dancing, there is a tap at the
shuttered window; we open it and three ladies enter, the wife of a man of
letters, who thought to find no one but a confederate, and her husband's
two young sisters whom she has brought secretly to some disreputable
dance. She is very confused at seeing us, but as she looks from one to
another understands that we have taken some drug and laughs; caught in our
dream we know vaguely that she is scandalous according to our code and to
all codes, but smile at her benevolently and laugh.

* * * * *

I am at Stuart Merrill's, and I meet there a young Jewish Persian scholar.
He has a large gold ring, seemingly very rough, made by some amateur, and
he shows me that it has shaped itself to his finger, and says, "That is
because it contains no alloy--it is alchemical gold." I ask who made the
gold, and he says a certain Rabbi, and begins to talk of the Rabbi's
miracles. We do not question him--perhaps it is true--perhaps he has
imagined at all--we are inclined to accept every historical belief once
more.

* * * * *

I am sitting in a Cafe with two French Americans, a German poet
Douchenday, and a silent man whom I discover to be Strindberg, and who is
looking for the Philosopher's Stone. The French American reads out a
manifesto he is about to issue to the Latin Quarter; it proposes to
establish a communistic colony of artists in Virginia, and there is a
footnote to explain why he selects Virginia, "Art has never flourished
twice in the same place. Art has never flourished in Virginia."

Douchenday, who has some reputation as a poet, explains that his poems are
without verbs, as the verb is the root of all evil in the world. He wishes
for an art where all things are immoveable, as though the clouds should be
made of marble. I turn over the page of one of his books which he shows
me, and find there a poem in dramatic form, but when I ask if he hopes to
have it played he says:--"It could only be played by actors before a black
marble wall, with masks in their hands. They must not wear the masks for
that would not express my scorn for reality."

* * * * *

I go to the first performance of Alfred Jarry's _Ubu Roi_, at the Théatre
de L'Oeuvre, with the Rhymer who had been so attractive to the girl in the
bicycling costume. The audience shake their fists at one another, and the
Rhymer whispers to me, "There are often duels after these performances,"
and he explains to me what is happening on the stage. The players are
supposed to be dolls, toys, marionettes, and now they are all hopping like
wooden frogs, and I can see for myself that the chief personage, who is
some kind of King, carries for Sceptre a brush of the kind that we use to
clean a closet. Feeling bound to support the most spirited party, we have
shouted for the play, but that night at the Hotel Corneille I am very sad,
for comedy, objectivity, has displayed its growing power once more. I say,
"After Stephane Mallarmé, after Paul Verlaine, after Gustave Moreau, after
Puvis de Chavannes, after our own verse, after all our subtle colour and
nervous rhythm, after the faint mixed tints of Conder, what more is
possible? After us the Savage God."




BOOK V

THE STIRRING OF THE BONES




_THE STIRRING OF THE BONES_


I

It may have been the Spring of 1897 that Maud Gonne, who was passing
through London, told me that for some reason unknown to her, she had
failed to get a Dublin authorization for an American lecturing tour. The
young Dublin Nationalists planned a monument to Wolfe Tone which, it was
hoped, might exceed in bulk and in height that of the too compromised and
compromising Daniel O'Connell, and she proposed to raise money for it by
these lectures. I had left the Temple and taken two rooms in Bloomsbury,
and in Bloomsbury lived important London Nationalists, elderly doctors,
who had been medical students during the Fenian movement. So I was able to
gather a sufficient committee to pass the necessary resolution. She had no
sooner sailed than I found out why the Dublin committee had refused it, or
rather put it off by delay and vague promises. A prominent Irish American
had been murdered for political reasons, and another Irish American had
been tried and acquitted, but was still accused by his political
opponents, and the dispute had spread to London and to Ireland, and had
there intermixed itself with current politics and gathered new bitterness.
My committee, and the majority of the Nationalist Irish Societies
throughout England were upon one side, and the Dublin committee and the
majority of the Nationalist Societies in Ireland upon the other, and
feeling ran high. Maud Gonne had the same friends that I had, and the
Dublin committee could not be made to understand that whatever money she
collected would go to the movement, and not to her friends and their
opponents. It seemed to me that if I accepted the Presidency of the '98
Commemoration Association of Great Britain, I might be able to prevent a
public quarrel, and so make a great central council possible; and a public
quarrel I did prevent, though with little gain perhaps to anybody, for at
least one active man assured me that I had taken the heart out of his
work, and no gain at all perhaps to the movement, for our central council
had commonly to send two organizers or to print two pamphlets, that both
parties might be represented when one pamphlet or one organizer had
served.


II

It was no business of mine, and that was precisely why I could not keep
out of it. Every enterprise that offered, allured just in so far as it was
not my business. I still think that in a species of man, wherein I count
myself, nothing so much matters as Unity of Being, but if I seek it as
Goethe sought, who was not of that species, I but combine in myself, and
perhaps as it now seems, looking backward, in others also, incompatibles.
Goethe, in whom objectivity and subjectivity were intermixed I hold, as
the dark is mixed with the light at the eighteenth Lunar Phase, could but
seek it as Wilhelm Meister seeks it intellectually, critically, and
through a multitude of deliberately chosen experiences; events and forms
of skill gathered as if for a collector's cabinet; whereas true Unity of
Being, where all the nature murmurs in response if but a single note be
touched, is found emotionally, instinctively, by the rejection of all
experience not of the right quality, and by the limitation of its
quantity.



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