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Friday, February 16, 2007

Maud Gonne Loses Her Underwear - Horace's First Gossip Column


So Horace comes bounding out of Dead Beat's tool shed.


"I have it. I have it," he screams waving a sheet of paper above his head.


"What do you have" D.B. asks him, "apart from a major case of dementia?"


"My first literary gossip column sang of news, as will my very last. I did well and have a practice sword to prove it."


"Let's have a look," I say snatching it from his hand.


"At the start of 1898, 15yo James A Joyce (JAJ) was just coming down from a year of intense Catholic religious fervor, and turning just as passionately against the Church. He was probably working on a (lost) notebook of poems, titled Moods, and feeling very fin de si├Ęcle: "The spectacle of the world... filled him with such sudden despair as could be assuaged only by melancholy versifying":


I have consorted with vulgarity

And am indelibly marked with its fell kiss,

Meanly I lived upon casual charity

Eagerly drinking of the dregs of bliss.


Meanwhile 32 yo William Butler Yeats spent most of the winter of 1897-98 in London (where he'd taken an apartment in 1896, in order finally to lose his virginity) hosting a regular Monday night salon for his literary friends, taking hashish pills and pursuing magickal researches with the Order of the Golden Dawn.


Meanwhile Lady Agusta Gregory (who surely had secret designs on WBY though she was 13 years his senior) met with Maud Gonne who WBY was sweet on and jealously said, "instead of beauty I saw a death's head".


Off Maud goes to Paris and Yeats returned to London where he took mescaline-- supplied by Havelock Ellis-- trying to achieve astral communication with Maud in Paris.


Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


Yeats had made no secret that Maud was his muse-- someone described the spectacle they presented on the street: "It is Maud Gonne and the Poet. She has a radiance as of sunlight. Yeats, that leopard of the moon, holds back in a leash a huge lion-colored Great Dane-- Maud Gonne's dog, Dagda."


But on 08 Dec 1898, after acknowledging their 'spiritual marriage' (and kissing him for the first time!) Maud traumatized WBY by finally telling him about her eight-year relationship with Millevoye, and of their two children (an infant son had died in 1891). On 18 Dec WBY would nonetheless propose to her, again, but she refused again: "I have a horror and terror of physical love."


Maud then returned to Paris, and WBY slunk off to Sligo, taking the hashish pills he relied on, to finish his new book of poems, The Wind Among the Reeds."


"Thats it, Horace? Your first Literary Gossip Column?"


"To some my satire seems too cutting, so extreme it violates the law..."


"It violates something that's for sure," I tell him. "Listen Horace, this is meant to be gossip, you know up to the minute slander. Jeez, Horace, Yeats is dead!"


"What exactly do you want Dead Beat?"


"Horace, Horace, Horace, at least Maud Gonne swinging her legs out of a taxi without her underwear on."

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