An intriguing and fascinating posting:-

Book Reviews Uncategorized

“Finding Poland” by Matthew Kelly

Looking at any historical map of Poland anyone may see how its borders have changed over the centuries. Where will you find the Polish home? One answer must be that it is founded deep in the hearts of the Polish people who fought for the liberty and the integrity of the Polish homeland. Now consider the promontory of land around Vilnius, or Wilno as it was then known, which was contained inside Poland in 1921. It was an area in which the small market town of Hruzdowa, comprising some 52 buildings and just large enough to warrant a town hall, was situated. These wild borderlands –known as the Kresy-were fought over for centuries by Austrians, Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians and Lithuanians. It was here that Matthew Kelly’s great-grandfather, who had imbibed the values and élan of the dashing officer class, Rafał Ryżewscy, came to teach with his clever young wife, Hanna. They were deeply committed to progress through education and to peaceably raising their two little daughters. However, the dreadful and calamitous year of 1939, was approaching when Hitler and Stalin partitioned Poland in the most cynical pact.

Matthew Kelly’s intriguing book

The particular attraction of this tale is the engaging manner in which personal and family recollections are intermingled, with a detailed but succinct account, of the history. A tragic history too; its wide parameters were to have a sorrowful effect on the couple and their children. Kelly is a young academic who teaches at Southamptonand gives a thorough background to the action. To give just two instances concerning major figures; he accounts for the vacillations in the policy of the renowned Józef Piłsudski, who steered Poland through the difficult period after 1918 and General Władysław Anders, the leader of the Polish II Corps, is presented as a humane leader in the confused period after the German attack on Russia.. His authoritarianism is recorded and yet the respect that he inspired in the Polish officer class is also described. Kelly’s writing strives to give a fair account and this aspect of his prose engages the reader.

The progressive cultural and linguistic values of thePolish-LithuanianCommonwealth, based on what we might now describe as inclusiveness, are shown to stretch right back to the Reformation. Other strands of nationalism are indicated as well as the conflict that resulted in a temporary dominance of the Poles over the Soviets which resulted in the treaty of Rigain March 1921. This is the necessary background to the love story between Rafał and Hanna, comrades and settlers together in the wild lands. Photographs of their marriage add poignancy to the story as we see and read of Hannah and her two tiny growing daughters, Wanda and Maria. These three were to be so suddenly driven into exile, separated from their very affectionate father, and exposed to multiple dangers during their hurried and harrowing departure, in cattle wagons transported across frozen wastes, eventually toKazakhstan.

There are many moving vignettes which will remain in the reader’s mind long after completing the book. There is mention of an unfortunate small child who incurred her mother’s desperate wrath by spilling a small supply of flour during the severe Siberian winter. The sacred vigil that Wanda kept by the window on Christmas Eve waiting for the first star to appear that indicated the start of celebrations. Throughout, Matthew Kelly indicates the importance of Catholic Christianity in sustaining believers in dark times; these links with the historic concept of Poland as a martyr nation. Hanna, the long-suffering mother, had to be wrapped in layers and layers of clothing to labour on the construction of a railway or her back-breaking gleaning on a collective farm. Dire images of body lice being burnt during long evenings in crackling candle flames are recorded. Then finally, the moment arrives, afterGermanyattackedRussia, when Polish troops are assembled into a ragged bootless army. Most touching is, when after a hazardous journey across the Caspian, the whole family escape to the gentler, more fertile climes ofPersia. However this was still wartime, travel arduous and hazardous and their final destination inIndia,AfricaorMexicoundecided. This was in the uncertain hands of official authorities, American, British and Polish; once again, and for a long while the outcome remained indeterminate.

Well supplied with notes and reference material, the only lack is a map to supplement Nana’s sketch map on which to track the vast distances involved before the final return to Devon. Otherwise, ‘Finding Poland is a magnificent and constantly informative account covering everything from the Katyn massacre to the persecution of Kulaks, the organisation of the Polish army to allegations of anti-Semitism. Informative on these and many other issues, it highlights the background of the Polish struggle to establish identity. It is deeply stirring as it describes the cost of conflict upon the author’s family. It is also very well-written and, at this price, something of a bargain.

Literature Uncategorized

Images from the Rape of Lucrece/Lucretia

In the dolorous, beautiful and heart-rending poem “The Rape of Lucrece”, Shakespeare writes these wonderful lines:-

To see sad sights moves more than to hear them told,

For then the eye interprets to the ear

The heavy motion that it doth behold,

When every part a part of woe doth bear.

‘Tis but a part of sorrow that we hear:

Deep sounds make lesser noise than shallow fords,

And sorrow ebbs being blown with wind of words.

The poem may be found on the Literature Network at

The work will be presented at the Edinburgh Festival this year and details may be found at

Lucretia, 1520/25 Oakwood 76 x 54 cm

The first painting, considered here, ofLucretia is that by Joos van Cleve, a Flemish artist dated 1525 (Oil on panel). The Rijksmuseum says,”Joos van Cleve was probably born in the town or province Kleve in Germany. He trained under a painter in Kalkar. Probably, he started working in Bruges in 1507. Later he moved to Antwerp, where he registered as a master painter in the painters guild. Van Cleve was one of the most influential painters in Antwerp. He received major commissions for portraits and altarpieces. In his paintings he combines a traditional approach with new elements. He was one of the first to paint broad landscapes in the background. In the north, painters began to show an interest in landscapes in the sixteenth century.” It is said that, that like Quentin Massys, a fellow artist of Antwerp, Joos van Cleve appropriated themes and techniques of Leonardo da Vinci.

Flora by Quentin Massys

Having recently seen Massys’s beautiful painting of Flora, 1559 in the Kunsthalle in Hamburg, I can vouch for its entrancing effect which has spurred me to look too at his splendid and interesting oeuvre.

This may be further explored at

Detail from Lucretia

There are 9 images for The Rape of Lucrece in the Lessing Archive of which that of Joos van Cleve, in my view, is the most moving. This is due partly to the intense use of colour and partly because of the composition. Her head is slightly raised and there is a plaintive and doleful expression on the face which clearly evokes her immeasurable sense of violation. The gesture is expressive rather than realistic and conveys the sense of drama, emphasised in the picture by the diagonal composition. The swirling dishabille of her dress and attendant necklace, the lacing, the elegant sleeving and in particular the looping arc about her headdress adds to the emotional sense of dire confusion. Her royalty is conveyed by these fine robes. The red and black surrounding the more delicate flesh tones add to the sense of catastrophe. Such emphatic use of colour reminded me of Munch’s painting of The Madonna with which it is interesting to compare and contrast, since this second painting with its languorous quality is quite different in terms of the feelings communicated.

Edvard Munch Madonna 1894-1895

The second picture is by the renowned British print maker, Stanley William Hayter, whose magnificent work has appeared fairly recently at the Annex Galleries,, it is mentioned was, “A chemist by training, Stanley W. Hayter spent most of his life in Paris. He is often noted for his 1927 founding an experimental workshop for the graphic arts – Atelier 17-that played a central role in the 20th century revival of the print as an independent art form”. His knowledge of chemistry was obviously a great asset in his printmaking and a brief biography may be viewed at His etching from 1934 appears to be in MOMA and further detail can be obtained from

Rape of Lucretia (Viol de Lucréce) by Stanley William Hayter

The etching and engraving which in a twisted and troubled composition in black and tones of grey, dramatically suggests the violence of the rape itself in convoluted tubes with a sharp diagonal point, perhaps suggestive of Tarquin’s arm but surely demonstrates the violence of the crime itself. The lower figure seems distraught and crudely exposed to the upper figure which appears too as some sort of metamorphosised fly with the same stabbing structure seeming like some horrific proboscis. Also Armion according to Wikipedia remarks upon,” The association between the phallus and the blade later becomes quite clear when Tarquin enters Lucrece’s chamber and threatens the young woman with his sword”. Here the abstract forms fully express the extremity of the situation. At this time, it appears Hayter had just moved to No. 17, Rue Campagne-Première and was, a few years later to collaborate with Miro, Kandinsky and Picasso on artwork for the Republican cause in Spain. Perhaps this is reminiscent of the significant political result of these events, that Lucius Junius Brutus, nephew of the last Tarquin King led the rebellion against him and founded theRomanRepublic.

Hayter was influenced by the Polish printmaker Józef Hecht, who introduced him to copper engraving. Hecht’s own prints and paintings are both interesting and highly engaging.

Joseph Hecht
Noisy Street
oil on canvas, 80×100 cm.
Vendage by Joseph Hecht

 This is now playing in the Edinburgh Festival 2012, should be really interesting:-


Some lovely sketches:-

Art Exhibition Reviews Penwith Uncategorized

A Visit to Maggie Matthews’s Studio on the North Coast of Penwith

Maggie with a major work for her forthcoming exhibition

At the end of May I had the opportunity to meet Maggie at her lovely granite cottage just off the coast road from Land’s End to St Just where I interviewed her about her development as a painter and printmaker. She has recently bought herself a new etching press which was on the table where we sat and had coffee around the sturdy wooden table. Her next exhibition will commence at the Cornwall Contemporary ( ) on the 17th August and runs to the 10th September.

Detail from the work above

Maggie grew up in Brynmawr in Gwent, South Wales and first came to Cornwalljust after leaving Exeter College of Art and Design.  (Further details may be found at Graham Sutherland was an early interest, particularly his use of colour. Having already been inspired by the landscape of South Wales with its magnificent mountain scenery, she was further impressed by the fabulous light of Penwith. Her family had strong naval connections, her grandfather had in fact been bombed out of Devonport, and the sea itself was an additional attraction for which she felt a strong, familiar affinity. Her palette changed completely and she became deeply interested in the St Ives painters. She was now to paint in bright and vivid colours which she soon came to use and to love.

Porthcawl andBarryIsland, nearCardiff, during the Miners fortnight holiday had already started a love of the beach and its natural history.ComprehensiveSchoolhad encouraged her interest in art, ceramics and sculpture but in addition Maggie enjoyed biology and maths, interests which were to prove an inspiration as her work has developed.

Detail from Maggie’s recent sketches

The facilities at Exeter, near the river inspired her interests in printmaking and ceramics. The geological society had an outward-bound bus and so there at weekends came down to Cornwalland whilst other students examined the rocks in CotValleyand other places, Maggie would be enthusiastically sketching. The sea, the mining and the Celtic connections were an additional attraction. After a period working on the manufacture of air and oil filters in industry in South Wales, Maggie arrived at Penzancejob centre whilst on a two-week holiday. She got a post working on the Jetsetter computer graphics project drawing paired-down sketches of simple objects like wine glasses and pencils.

Maggie continued to sketch the landscape intensively at weekends. She also went on Friday nights in St Just with Mary Stork to draw life studies, which she found a useful exercise and with Mary’s support she exhibited her work for the very first time.

Maggie outside her cottage with a work for the forthcoming exhibition at Cornwall Contemporary

Her first solo show was in Brown’s Restaurant which Maggie then proceeded to show at for another two more years and then had a further displays at Avalon in Marazion. Her very abstract colourist compositions at this point were very much influenced by her attraction to Patrick Heron’s work. In particular Maggie likes his later garden works and the space and depth created in these compositions. Paul Nash, Samuel Palmer, William Blake and Sutherland remain her favourite works for their pastoral, lyrical qualities. She remains interested in printing, ceramics and expresses an interest too in sculpture.

Book Reviews Uncategorized

House of Exile by Evelyn Juers

Heinrick Mann and Nelly Kröger-Mann were in a constant state of hazardous exile after the rise of fascism inGermanyin 1933. He became like Zola, his favourite author, a socially committed novelist and political activist and fierce critic of militarism. He was convivial, having a wide circle of friends that contained many creative artists, playwrights, socialists. He seemed drawn to the bohemians and the demi-monde. This elegant and sometimes formal gentleman came from the Hanseatic town ofLubeckwhere his father belonged to a renowned grain merchant family. These might be described as the haute-bourgeoise. There was an unusual degree of sibling rivalry between him and his less robust brother, the famous author of “The magic Mountain, Thomas Mann, Hendrick possessed a sensual nature and fell passionately and easily in love with a number of women. Of these his relationship with the Nelly, a fascinating woman, a seamstress and nightclub hostess, as full of contradictions as himself, was the most successful and long lasting. She followed him on the long painful journey into exile at first in Nice and later to theUnited States.

The Mann Family

This is an unusual book which is termed by its author a collective memoir and portrays the attempts of a generation of writers and poets to continue their work in dark and terrifying times. Exile placed a severe stress on the community of authors acrossEurope, their dispersed families and friends. Jews and political activists, amongst others were to be viciously and systematically persecuted, tortured and executed by the Nazis and the heart-braking news appeared a tunnel of night to those exiled men and women who escaped from one country to another. Escapees were to be faced with the further eruption of civil war inSpainwhich lay in the path of their escape. Some were forcibly returned to their persecutors. The news of Stalin’s tergiversations and show trials made the formation of a United Front harder still. Sensibilities of women, like those of Virginia Woolf or like gentle Nelly, who had early in her life suffered the traumatic loss of a child, were strained to the limits of their endurance.

Heinrich and Nelly Mann

The first part of ‘’House of Exile’’ contains many moving and poetic passages. The writing, which has been compared with W.G.Sebald, is quietly dazzling and also reminiscent of the American novelist, Andrea Barrett.  A lyrical chapter concerns Heinrich’s sister, Carla, of whom he was deeply fond. This darkly romantic actress encounters some Scandinavian biologists whilst transporting a skull in which she has concealed cyanide. Mention is made of nasturtiums which glow at dusk and we are given an exposition on Goethe who read Linneaus, as well as his beloved Shakespeare and Spinoza. The writing thus appeals on two levels as prose poetry and simultaneously this illumines the literary and philosophical background. Goethe propounds the concept of Anschauung which maintains the importance of intuition as well as observation and can be expressed in English as the notion of the Gaze. Juers here is also exploring how the imagination works in reconstructing the past.

These were indeed dark times and although Heinrich and Nelly found a temporary refuge in the South of France, the pressure of events mounted on both a personal and political level. Heinrich takes Veronal, an unreliable barbiturate to calm his nerves. Juers reminds us that despite these pressures he manages to keep working on his biography of Henry IV. There are interesting parallels between his difficult relationship with his brother, which is mirrored by Virginia Woolf, stoically sticking at her novels between headaches which forced her to take refuge in her bed and rather envying her artist sister, Vanessa having her children. Family festivities maintain morale with copious quantities of champagne and Baumkukhen even as troops march, dictators thunder, air raids threaten as does the internment of those unable to escape the gathering storm.

Evelyn Juers’s fascinating work

Although Freud and the stream of consciousness and historical novels are major themes in this work it is difficult to tell if Evelyn Juers consciously intends the jump cuts in the later section to conveys the fractionated experience of these writers. The author has spent ten years in research. The result is an excellent introduction to intellectuals as varied as Joyce, Woolf and in particularly the Germans; Brecht, Döblin, Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Karl Schwitters and many, many others. It also describes the horrific realities of anti-semitism, mass aerial bombardment and consequent individual trauma. Juers is at her most moving in her depiction of the day to day harshness of life for women in exile and the personal cruelties dealt by fate and also men’s unkindness to poor Nelly Kroeger-Mann. She lost a child, her lover steals her story and destroys her manuscript and yet she transports him over mountains to escape, scrapes and scrimps to ensure their survival and is harassed by the FBI just as she was the brown-shirts. Finally she is constantly subjected to the snobbery of her brother-in-law. Little wonder she resorted to drink.

The Author

Exile literature is, of course ancient;’’ By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion’’. (Psalm 137). Classical authors such as Cicero and Ovid were subject to exile and the latter sang evocatively in the ‘’Tristia’’ in elegiac couplets. Evelyn Juers approach to imaginatively exploring this dark period of the European zeitgeist is striking; her innovative book, in its intensive exploration of the literary links of the German dissident writers from 1933 to 1945, known as exilliteratur contributes a new dimension to the understanding of post-war, post-modern consciousness – the state of loneliness, isolation and apprehensiveness in the face of political and military forces that threaten the individual and those he loves.

Book Reviews Uncategorized West Cornwall (and local history)

Glass, The Strange History of- by Lyne Stephens Fortune

In this panoramic view of two Cornish families spanning two centuries all sorts of characters make an appearance. Not only are we educated in the ambience of English Merchants in Portugal but people as diverse as Southey, William M.Thackery, John Lemon and Canning, to mention but a few, all make an appearance. It begins by relating the making of a fortune by William Stephens, grandson of the Vicar of Menheniott and an enterprising genius. Her is the story of a merchant who becomes a manufacturer of glass.

William was educated at Exeter Free Grammar School, having left the area near Saltash, where he grew up. He went on to serve on the Lisbon packets upon arrival in Portugal became involved with the intrigues of Carvahlo, the Marquis of Pombal. He was next to witness the destruction of Lisbon by the great earthquake in 1755. As Jenifer Roberts interestingly points out, high waves from the latter were still above 8 foot when they made boats in St Ives rise more than eight feet. Then William opened a glass factory in Marinha Grande and securing exemption from taxes, charmed princes and queens so as to build a fabulous fortune.

The profits from the Stephens fortune passed also into the hands of their Lyne relations also living in both Portugal and Cornwall. The author outlines the family history, which involves wars and rebellions and diverting interludes. Eventually some of the fortune ends up in the hands of a feisty French ballerina and into the hands of various lawyers settling claims upon it. This is a splendid tale, well written and for those who find truth stranger than fiction, a great historical and biographical account.

The Strange History of the
Lyne Stephens Fortune


Book Reviews Penwith Poetry Uncategorized

Bardhonyeth Kernow,Poetry Cornwall (Volume 27)

Bardhonyeth Kernow

This issue contains a wide variety of contributions from over sixty poets from Scotland(which also provides the lichen encrusted wheel arch cover image from Callander) to Germany, from Wales to Spain. Naturally the emphasis are on Cornish poems and it is the landscape of Kernow which provides the inspiration for many of these verses in dialect and Kenewek with a translation and interpretation section carefully chosen by Grand Bard, Mick Paynter. It is good to see the enthusiasm for good poetry in the Duchy from such various sources as French, Scots Gaelic and even the Romany language of Gurbet. This is a collection which is not afraid to approach the edge, like Sam Harcombe, who at Warren Cliff approached, ignoring stakes and danger signals:-

Hoping to catch sight of seal,

I wanted to look closer at the inlet far below, but

riddled with rabbit holes and

cracks it was obviously dangerous.

I went a few steps past the stakes

And still saw not enough

Bernard Jackson prefers the sylvan safety of the Sunlit Leaves as the sun sinks and he wanders entranced by the magic of a slow watered stream:-

Eternal is the flame that ne’er consumes,

Yet blazons leaves, nor shall one instant fade.

From woodland reign that readily assumes

This seasoned garb, immortally arrayed.

In traceries where sunlight shines between,

God’s glory is a miracle of green.

Bardhonyeth Kernow’s Editor Les Merton

Besides such nature poems form Perranuthnoe to Predannack, there are some moving poems inspired by the cheerful and encouraging words from the nursing staff on Geevor Ward which as Donald Rawe puts it “Restore humanity to the clinical desolation”. There are sad, human reflections on Casualty and Geriatric Wards. There are too the lifting memories of repairing with his father My Pink Bicycle by Graham Rippon:-

“Paint it any colour you like”

But the only colour we had was Pink

This little collection is a gem and a tribute to the current interest in poetry in our Duchy.

Book Reviews Literature Uncategorized

Disputed Land by Tim Pears

Amazon link:

Genre: Literary Fiction

In this engaging novel, Tim Pears tackles many challenging themes: sibling rivalry, time and change in the countryside, facing terminal illness, reflections on the isolation of academic life and undertaking risky financial investment. This is not a portrayal of a rural idyll although much of the most lyrical writing concerns the colours of the Shropshire countryside and this is strengthened by reference to the layers of the archaic past that underlies this disputed borderland territory. In attempting such a multi-layered narrative in a relatively short novel, it is not surprising that for instance, the traumatic shocks in the epic tale are diminished by random, experimental shifts in the tone of the narrative.

‘’Disputed Land’’ is seen through the eyes of thoughtful young Theo who is taken by his parents, both Oxford Academics back to Rodney’s, his father’s family home in the Welsh Marshes for Christmas holiday. This is not the relaxing Christmas to which they might be looking forward. Leonard and Rosemary, Theo’s grandparents have been considering their foreshortened future and tasked not only Rodney, but also his younger materialistic and brutish brother Johnny, and his preoccupied sister Gwen with the division of the family goods.  Theo’s arrival is made more challenging again by Baz and Xan, two feckless and brazen twelve year olds, just one year his junior, the offspring of the philistine Johnny and his attractive, zippy South American wife, Lorna.

Much of the most engaging writing concerns Theo’s burgeoning adolescent sexuality. Firstly, from an admiring distance in relation to his Aunt Lorna whose trim figure undertaking early morning jogs through the countryside thrills him with ecstatic admiration of her athletic charms. Secondly, his fellow feeling for his tomboyish cousin Holly, about Theo’s age, leads him into a sympathetic relationship and subsequently, some maturity. This is despite being in the midst of the many conflicts and pressures by which he himself, Holly and her older sister,Sydney-divorced Gwen’s children -are surrounded.

As Christmas progresses the warm relationship between Theo and his grandfather, Leonard is strengthened in activities in and around the ancient farmhouse. Pears evokes the bucolic smells beneath the eaves of the stables, in Theo’s untidy workshop in the Coach house, and wandering around the variegated woods with Leonard’s lolloping  dogs and listening to his grandfather’s tales of ancient divided loyalties. Theo’s granddad is an ardent enthusiast for every aspect of local history such as tribal incursions across the border hills and the stanch affiliations of the Civil War. Leonard too encourages Theo’s interest in husbandry, forestry and ornithology.

It is Leonard’s practical enterprise that won the hand of Rosemary, Theo’s grandmother, who was born into the parochial gentry, and an accomplished horsewoman. Unfortunately, her imperious manner and disposition to frankly speak her mind causes pain particularly to Auntie Gwen’s partner, Melony. Her energetic advocacy of green issues including views on population, are so vigorously expressed that it reduces the latter to tears after Gwen proudly announces her partner’s surrogate pregnancy has reached 12 weeks. However, further catastrophic shocks occur on the discovery that in fact Rosemary is not just being just her usual difficult self. Her disproportionate railing is exacerbated by the incursions of a terrible illness.

Some of the difficulty in the flow of Pears’s prose is due to the fact that the novel is written in reflection from a time some fifty years in the future, by the middle-aged Theo. When occasionally reminded of this, the otherwise absorbing story is momentarily disturbed and the flow unpleasantly disrupted. Fortunately, this does not happen often. Pears indulges himself in bouts of strange mysticism, which may appeal to some readers since it adds a dynamic of menace and mystery. Others may just find it somewhat silly.

Fortunately, there are other constituents which make this a very worthwhile read. Tim Pears has imaginatively reconstructed the past, invoking such treasures as the splendid library of Leofric, Bishop of Exeter and the mossy redoubts of the Norman knights, the Marcher Lords. The poetic atmosphere is heightened with descriptions of the altering winter sunlight on the crimson mountainsides and the song of a solitary woodpecker. Pears, too has been a filmmaker and excels at sculpting figures, interiors and props, like the kitchen where the difficult, dominating Grandmother lays her hand upon the Aga, from where she conjures recipes and dominates the set. Then there is control of pacing, producing convincing drama. The dark and poignant quarrels and losses are heightened by their contrast with the hilarious descriptions of a football match that highlights, and for a moment, reconciles the loopy idiosyncrasies of this odd family.

Langland, not far away to the south on the Malvern borderland once wrote in ‘Piers Plowman’, ‘’And with Mammon’s money he hath made him friends’’. Tim Pears in ‘’Disputed Land’’ has written with a similar urgent exhortation, to slay the false gods of growth and greed; to show how issues around grasping and grabbing can tear a family apart.


Art and Photographic History Poetry Uncategorized

Yeats and Yeats; The lake at Coole Park and the River Liffey in Dublin

The Wild Swans at Coole by W.B.Yeats 1917

Wild Swans

The trees are in their autumn beauty,

The woodland paths are dry,

Under the October twilight the water

Mirrors a still sky;

Upon the brimming water among the stones

Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me

Since I first made my count;

I saw, before I had well finished,

All suddenly mount

And scatter wheeling in great broken rings

Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,

And now my heart is sore.

All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,

The first time on this shore,

The bell-beat of their wings above my head,

Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,

They paddle in the cold

Companionable streams or climb the air;

Their hearts have not grown old;

Passion or conquest, wander where they will,

Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,

Mysterious, beautiful;

Among what rushes will they build,

By what lake’s edge or pool

Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day

To find they have flown away?

The portrait of the poet above is by his brother Jack Butler Yeats. An interesting analysis  and exposition of this poem may be found at

With Olympics in the news at present it is interesting to read about the Silver Olympic Medal awarded to Jack Yeats. He thus became the first Irishman to win an Olympic Medal.

Silver Olympic Medal received by Jack B. Yeats

which can be found on the National Gallery, Dublin website at Here it mentions, “Jack B. Yeats (1871–1957) won this silver olympic medal for his painting ‘The Liffey Swim’  (NGI 941) in 1924.  Art competitions formed part of the modern Olympic Games during its early years, from 1912 to 1948 and medals were awarded for works of art inspired by sport.  Works were divided into five categories: architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture.  The medals for the 1924 Olympic Games were designed by French medal artist André Adolphe Rivaud, (1892 – unknown).”

Jack Butler Yeats was strongly influenced by expressionism and was a friend of Samuel Beckett, J.M.Synge and the Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka. He was a magnificent painter of horses and Dublin life in the Liffey Swim (See There is also an engaging video at Here are just three paintings by Jack Yates:-

Baggot Street Bridge

Title:The Liffey Swim by Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)
Sketch of WBYeats