"Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931"
William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)
“Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931” typescript draft
Yeats completed this last elegy for Gregory three months before her death in May 1932. In the poem, which Yeats initially titled “Coole. 1932,” Gregory is already off stage, heard with her stick moving painfully in a room above. The poem anticipates both her passing and the destruction of Coole itself. These are figured as signs of coming chaos and a loss of tradition, both for Yeats himself and by implication for Ireland and the wider world. Fearing for his own future creativity, Yeats imagines the “high horse” of poetry now being “riderless,” while the swans on Coole lake “drift” on a “darkening flood.” The opening stanza, describing the river that linked Coole with Thoor Ballylee, deftly celebrates the creative connection and interdependency that marked the long friendship and collaborations between Yeats and Gregory.
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