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Imaginations and Reveries   By: (1867-1935)

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IMAGINATIONS AND REVERIES

By AE [George William Russell]

PREFACE

The publishers of this book thought that a volume of articles and tales written by me during the past twenty five years would have interest enough to justify publication, and asked me to make a selection. I have not been able to make up a book with only one theme. My temperament would only allow me to be happy when I was working at art. My conscience would not let me have peace unless I worked with other Irishmen at the reconstruction of Irish life. Birth in Ireland gave me a bias towards Irish nationalism, while the spirit which inhabits my body told me the politics of eternity ought to be my only concern, and that all other races equally with my own were children of the Great King. To aid in movements one must be orthodox. My desire to help prompted agreement, while my intellect was always heretical. I had written out of every mood, and could not retain any mood for long. If I advocated a national ideal I felt immediately I could make an equal plea for more cosmopolitan and universal ideas. I have observed my intuitions wherever they drew me, for I felt that the Light within us knows better than any other the need and the way. So I have no book on one theme, and the only unity which connects what is here written is a common origin. The reader must try a balance between the contraries which exist here as they exist in us all, as they exist and are harmonized in that multitudinous meditation which is the universe. A.E.

PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION

To this edition four essays have been added. Two of these, "Thoughts for a Convention" and "The New Nation," made some little stir when they first appeared. Ireland since then has passed away from the mood which made it possible to consider the reconciliations suggested, and has set its heart on more fundamental changes, and these essays have only interest as marking a moment of transition in national life before it took a new road leading to another destiny.

CONTENTS

NATIONALITY OR COSMOPOLITANISM STANDISH O'GRADY THE DRAMATIC TREATMENT OF LEGEND THE CHARACTER OF HEROIC LITERATURE A POET OF SHADOWS THE BOYHOOD OF A POET THE POETRY OF JAMES STEPHENS A NOTE ON SEUMAS O'SULLIVAN ART AND LITERATURE AN ARTIST OF GARLIC IRELAND TWO IRISH ARTISTS "ULSTER" IDEALS OF THE NEW RURAL SOCIETY THOUGHTS FOR A CONVENTION THE NEW NATION THE SPIRITUAL CONFLICT ON AN IRISH HILL RELIGION AND LOVE THE RENEWAL OF YOUTH THE HERO IN MAN THE MEDITATION OF ANANDA THE MIDNIGHT BLOSSOM THE CHILDHOOD OF APOLLO THE MASK OF APOLLO The CAVE OF LILITH THE STORY OF A STAR THE DREAM OF ANGUS OGE DEIRDRE

NATIONALITY OR COSMOPOLITANISM

As one of those who believe that the literature of a country is for ever creating a new soul among its people, I do not like to think that literature with us must follow an inexorable law of sequence, and gain a spiritual character only after the bodily passions have grown weary and exhausted themselves. In the essay called The Autumn of the Body, Mr. Yeats seems to indicate such a sequence. Yet, whether the art of any of the writers of the decadence does really express spiritual things is open to doubt. The mood in which their work is conceived, a distempered emotion, through which no new joy quivers, seems too often to tell rather of exhausted vitality than of the ecstasy of a new life. However much, too, their art refines itself, choosing, ever rarer and more exquisite forms of expression, underneath it all an intuition seems to disclose only the old wolfish lust, hiding itself beneath the golden fleece of the spirit. It is not the spirit breaking through corruption, but the life of the senses longing to shine with the light which makes saintly things beautiful: and it would put on the jeweled raiment of seraphim, retaining still a heart of clay smitten through and through with the unappeasable desire of the flesh: so Rossetti's women, who have around them all the circumstance of poetry and romantic beauty, seem through their sucked in lips to express a thirst which could be allayed in no spiritual paradise... Continue reading book >>




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