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Friday, 31 August 2012

Yeats had the same opinion

Well, it’s no surprise, really.
Yeats had the same opinion about me.
‘I’m not having you in the book of poems I’m editing,’
he said.
(I’m paraphrasing him.  Call it revenge.)
‘I’m not sure I like the way you write about war,’
he said,
(only he might have said ‘loike’,
so you see,
in lots of ways, we were different.)
‘A bit too much suffering for my loiking
and not what we’re looking for in poetry,’
he said.
(Oh, forgive me, Mr W B Yeats,
for daring to mention the blood.)

And, now, here come Shropshire Council,
borrowing from Yeats’ ideas.
(Don’t they know that’s called plagiarism?)
'We’ll just pretend that what he had to say
isn't as important as people thought,'
they say.
'We’ll just, while no one’s looking,
pile up bricks and roofs and window frames
in the apple orchard where he played
and surround his birthplace with other noise
until his voice is silenced,'
they say.

(Gosh, I hate to point it out,
you being wise councillors, and all,
but it didn’t work for Yeats,
and I don’t see your council documents
on every exam syllabus....)

© Fran Hill

Wilfred Owen: Call to protect WWI poet's home

William Butler Yeats - On Being Asked for a War Poem (1915)

Fran lives in the West Midlands (UK). She teaches English in a local secondary school, writes, performs, blogs, tweets and tries to resist chocolate.


  1. Wonderful Fran! A very good point and well made. Of course they never will silence his voice; it grows louder by the day.

  2. One despairs at the Philistine attitude of some local authority planners and conservation bodies these days. Well done for writing a hard hitting poem and for educating me about the bitchy attitude that Yeats had towards Owen. I continue to enjoy both poets!

    David Subacchi

  3. Thanks, Little Nell. I think you're right. Wilf is on up the up, certainly on exam courses.

    David, thanks for your comment. Philistine is about right.

  4. Love the irony, Fran. Owen is one of the few poets for whom being on the exam curriculum has not been the kiss of death. Yeats in his later years was a Grumpy Old Man/Elder Lemon towards younger poets. Like David, I continue to enjoy both poets, and enjoy your poem, too. As to the councillors: you said it, poetically.
    Breda Wall Ryan

  5. Thanks, Breda, for your comment. I like the Grumpy Old Man label for Yeats. He really was a bit pompous, about Owen anyway.