The Easter Rising took place a hundred years ago. It was an idiotic, doomed adventure that caused hundreds of deaths and maybe led, years later, to Irish independence:
Almost 500 people were killed in the Easter Rising. About 54% were civilians, 30% were British military and police, and 16% were Irish rebels. More than 2,600 were wounded. Most of the civilians were killed as a result of the British using artillery and heavy machine guns, or mistaking civilians for rebels. The shelling and the fires it caused left parts of inner city Dublin in ruins.
And, of course, it led to a great poem. If you’re a terrorist (or, maybe, a freedom fighter), you should hope that you have William Butler Yeats around to make you immortal, to turn your dreams into myth. Here’s the final stanza of “Easter 1916”:
Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death.
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead.
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
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.
Here’s the proclamation of an Irish republic, signed by some of those whom excess of love bewildered:
In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, here’s an Irish writer in this occasional series. This time it’s Young Cassidy, the 1965 biopic of Irish playwright Sean O’Casey starring Rod Taylor, Maggie Smith, and Julie Christie.
As you can see from the poster, the movie doesn’t emphasize his writing. OK, it doesn’t mention it at all. But boy, do we get an idea of what his soaring male senses are up to.The writing does show up in the actual movie, of course. But they aren’t able to do much with it. We just get a peek at him now and then staring with grim determination at a blank sheet of paper or a typewriter, in between his brawls and his romances. (The young, gorgeous Julie Christie only has a few couple of scenes, but she makes, um, quite an impression.)
The movie really isn’t very good — and it was a flop at the box office. Mostly it’s just a bunch of more or less disconnected episodes from O’Casey’s autobiography, never building to much of anything. But we do see Rod Taylor betraying his best friend by making him a character in The Plough and the Stars — that’s a nice writerly touch. And (spoiler alert) the ever-faithful Maggie Smith finally dumps him, realizing she isn’t cut out to be the wife of a famous writer. Another nice touch.
Anyway, if you want to experience more of Rod Taylor’s soaring male senses, here is the the trailer (assuming I can get the embedding to work):
Here are the jellyfish, in Burlington City Hall Park. Why they are there, I haven’t a clue.The Irish music was provided by Danu at the Flynn Theater. Here they are, singing a gorgeous ballad they also performed at the Flynn: