One hundred years ago today, W.B. Yeats published one of his best known poems, September 1913
, as a letter to the Irish Times.
The poem was a response to a long-running argument [vid, 4.25]
over whether Dublin Municipal Corporation should fund a permanent location for a bequest of modern art from the collector Hugh Lane [vid, 2.38]
. Objections were made on economic and moral grounds, by what Yeats called "the mob" [PDF]
It was also written against the background of the Dublin Lockout
, which saw bitter class conflict erupt between Dublin's rising trade unions and the capitalist employers. The piece stood as an attack on what Yeats saw as the pettiness of bourgeois materialism, and the betrayal of Ireland's revolutionary past.
Together with the Lockout, its centenary marks the first wave of a decade of commemorations
for 1912 - 1923, the most turbulent years of modern Irish history. Century Ireland
is a website funded by RTÉ, the national broadcaster, reporting on the events of that era in real-time.
- Read the original publication in the Irish Times archive
, and its original accompanying editorial
. Some annotations
- Hear WB Yeats read his poem
(with a slightly disturbing visual attached).
- Listen to RTÉ's six-part radio documentary on the Dublin Lockout here
. (The publication of the poem is covered in episode two).
The Hugh Lane Gallery (eventually installed in 1933) is running an exhibition
on the links between the Dublin Lockout and the Gallery dispute until February 2014. Admission, as always, is free.