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Apr 16

1923: William Butler Yeats

Shakespeare framställer olika nationaliteters särdrag i skådespelet Henry V (akt III, scen 2). En engelsman, en walesare, en skotte och en irländare kontrasteras. Kapten Macmorris talar bred dialekt med många kraftuttryck, han är lättstött, hetlevrad och stridslysten men en tapper soldat, han är outtröttlig och väntar otåligt på att få skrida till verket.

Fyra irländare har fått Nobels litteraturpris, den fjärde presenteras idag. Hur passar Shakespeares beskrivning in på Seamus Heaney, Samuel Beckett, G B Shaw och W B Yeats?

Dåligt. Det är som om Yeats var den enda äkta irländaren av dessa. Och irländsk ville han vara. Han var impulsiv och debattglad, hade höga tankar om sig själv och sitt geni och han var djupt försjunken i irländsk mytologi (och en del annan). Owen Red Hanrahan (Eoghan Ruadh Ó Súilleabháin), en litterär figur med en levande bard som förebild, kan ses som hans alter ego. Röde Hanrahan är rödhårig, som känt besitter sådana vissa magiska krafter.

Ett utdrag ur den korta berättelsen Hanrahan and Cathleen the daughter of Hoolihan:

”Of a sudden his singing stopped, and his eyes grew misty as if he was looking at some far thing.

Mary Gillis was pouring whiskey into a mug that stood on a table beside him, and she left off pouring and said, ‘Is it of leaving us you are thinking?’

Margaret Rooney heard what she said, and did not know why she said it, and she took the words too much in earnest and came over to him, and there was dread in her heart that she was going to lose so wonderful a poet and so good a comrade, and a man that was thought so much of, and that brought so many to her house.

‘You would not go away from us, my heart?’ she said, catching him by the hand.

‘It is not of that I am thinking,’ he said, ‘but of Ireland and the weight of grief that is on her.’ And he leaned his head against his hand, and began to sing these words, and the sound of his voice was like the wind in a lonely place.

The old brown thorn trees break in two high over Cummen Strand
Under a bitter black wind that blows from the left hand;
Our courage breaks like an old tree in a black wind and dies,
But we have hidden in our hearts the flame out of the eyes
Of Cathleen the daughter of Hoolihan.

The winds was bundled up the clouds high over Knocknarea
And thrown the thunder on the stones for all that Maeve can say;
Angers that are like noisy clouds have set our hearts abeat,
But we have all bent low and low and kissed the quiet feet
Of Cathleen the daughter of Hoolihan.

The yellow pool has overflowed high upon Clooth-na-Bare,
For the wet winds are blowing out of the clinging air;
Like heavy flooded waters our bodies and our blood,
ut purer than a tall candle before the Holy Rood
Is Cathleen the daughter of Hoolihan.

While he was singing, his voice began to break, and tears came rolling down his cheeks, and Margaret Rooney put down her face into her hands and began to cry along with him. Then a blind beggar by the fire shook his rags with a sob, and after that there was no one of them all but cried tears down.”

Inte heller W B Yeats glömmer någonsin sin längtans ö i havet och den svarta sorg av ondska och svek som tynger den.