The Tower of Yeats:
William Butler Yeats, already a celebrated poet late in his career, published a small volume he named The Tower.  Largely it was a collection of poems he had already published.  It was hugely successful, both among the critics, as E. A. Poe was and Gustav Doré was not, and among the readers, as Doré was and Poe was not.  Funny old world, is it not?

Years before Yeats had bought a tower, an ancient Norman keep, of which he was quite fond and which he kept in good repair and where he entertained friends.  I think his enthusiasm was due in part to the fact that Milton had penned the words in one of his poems, “May my lamp at midnight hour be seen in some high lonely tower; there may I oft out watch the bear.”  “The bear” is, of course the big dipper, which never sets in that part of the world.  It means studying all night.  It was a suitable line for a poet of the Enlightenment, where grindingly hard intellectual work is contrasted with the shallow pleasures of frivolity.  Yeats was more nearly a child of the Romantic movement of the century before.  The tower can also be understood as a Romantic motif.

At one point, after considerable restoration, Yeats put up a quote bearing the sentiment that he hoped his lines would last until the tower was once more in ruins.  Evidently he was quite aware that it would always require constant maintenance; it is next a stream that periodically floods the foundations.  This seems to me to be a pity.  Part of the appeal of a stone castle has always been to me that the basic bones of the pile were in for the long run.  Changes and maintenance would always be cheap and superficial.  Well, I guess not. 

His major restauration was completed in 1928.  An electrical storm has knocked down the internet, so I can’t verify it, but my impression is that the tower was ruinous again by the 1980’s.  Contrast that with the home of my parents, built in 1928 and only requiring moderate care down to the present.  There is, in fact, a nice little thatched cottage leaning against the Tower, not so very unlike my parents’ old home and probably equally immune to catastrophic change.

It is the same old story: show me a great power base (as only such can build a castle) and I will show you something due to inevitable and early decline.  Show me a modest community (like a tiny and forgotten village far from the great centers of power and their eternal jockeying for advantage) and I will show you the potential for long term stabiltity.

There have been 402 visitors over the past month.

There have been 21 viewings of Babies Triumph over Evil on YouTube.

Home page