A select gathering turned up on Wednesday for a close reading of WB Yeats’s “Easter 1916”. We put some faces to the names in the poem: Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonogh, Con Markiewicz, James Connolly, and John MacBride and discussed Yeats’s troubled response to the Rising. As Guilherme said, the final stanza becomes clearer, with a firmer, more energetic rhythm, as Yeats seems content to take on the role of epic poet singing the heroes of his time:
I write it out in a verse –
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
They, and their names have been changed into icons of heroic sacrifice and instigators of what would, a few years later, become a revolution. We must not forget, however, that Yeats ends with the famous refrain: “A terrible beauty is born.”
Another revolution, albeit of a very different kind, was the theme of our Friday film, The Social Network, which gives a fictionalized account of how Facebook was founded. The film begins with some fast talking and continues at pace, with scenes of later court cases or legal inquiries interspersed with those showing how some Harvard students invented a world-changing website, one which students are always giving me hassle for not using. Me, and five billion other people, I say.
On Wednesday, we’ll be talking about James Joyce and “After the Race”, a story from his collection Dubliners. Don’t be intimidated by the great man’s reputation for difficulty. His early stories, reminiscent of Chekhov and Henrik Ibsen, are tasty, nutritious little slices of Dublin life at the onset of the machine age. An early appetizer will get us ready for the great feast that is Ulysses, and for Bloomsday on the 16th June. Just call in to Sheila in the office to the pick up a copy of the story.
Here’s another story from Dubliners, with voice and text on YouTube
Seeya on Wednesday