Cats are not to be depinded on

W.B.Yeats spent much of the late 1880s writing to the poet Kathleen Tynan, praising her work, offering her advice, correcting the rhythms of her poems. Part of this was justifying (to himself as to her) his living with his family in ‘hateful London’ with its miserable poor, offensively rich, and literary men without convictions. His letters though describe his own precocious convictions beautifully, and an increasing attraction towards the whirl. Occasionally he was able to leave and consider his tenacious imaginative hold on the Irish west, and what it meant to him and to his writing, as in this lively letter. There is some of the strain of self-presentation here, but I see nothing of the cynicism he has latterly been accused of. He was also, as it happens, the most vibrant and unexpected of letter writers, always a pleasure to go back to:

to Katherine Tynan [13 Aug 1887]

Rosses Point, Sligo

You will see by the top of this letter that I am down at Sligo. I reached here Thursday morning about 2 oc having come by Liverpool but will return by Dublin perhaps.

Have been making a search for people to tell me fairy stories and found one or two. […] It is a wonderfully beautiful day the air is full of trembling light. The very feel of the familiar Sligo earth puts me in good spirits. I should like to live here always not out of liking for the people so much as for the earth and the sky here, though I like the people too. I went to see yesterday a certain cobler of my acquaintance and he discoursed over his cat as though he had walked out of one of Kickhams novels “Cats are not to be depinded upon” he said and told me how a neighbours cat had gone up the evening before to the top of a tree where a blackbird used to sing every night “and pulled him down” and then he finished sadly with “cats are not to be depinded upon”. [ here follows some found verses and other stories…]

Your Friend

W B Yeats

PS […] How does your article go on? I wish it were an Irish article, though at the comencement one I supose cannot chose ones own subjects always; but remember by being as Irish as you can you will be the more origonal and true to your self and in the long run more interesting even to English readers.

I am going now to a farm house where they have promised me fairy tales so I can write no more.

~ by thebicyclops on October 11, 2011.

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