October 05, 2013

William Butler Yeats - Protestants are the people of Ireland

In 1925, when the Irish Free State was about to outlaw divorce, the poet William Butler Yeats delivered before the Senate a famous eulogy on the role and pointed relevance of Anglo-Irish:
"This speech is haughty and snobbish indeed. If not sectarian. I think it is tragic that within three years of this country gaining its independence we should be discussing a measure which a minority of this nation considers to be grossly oppressive. I am proud to consider myself a typical man of that minority. We against whom you have done this thing, are no petty people. We are one of the great stocks of Europe. We are the people of Burke; we are the people of Grattan; we are the people of Swift, the people of Emmet, the people of Parnell. We have created the most of the modern literature of this country. We have created the best of its political intelligence. Yet I do not altogether regret what has happened. I shall be able to find out, if not I, my children will be able to find out whether we have lost our stamina or not. You have defined our position and have given us a popular following. If we have not lost our stamina then your victory will be brief, and your defeat final, and when it comes this nation may be transformed."
As was observed elsewhere here: "What would England be without Ireland, and Ireland without England? Would Ireland be better without William Butler Yeats, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, Louis MacNiece, Edmund Burke, Bernard Shaw, the Duke of Wellington, Charles Stuart Parnell, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, and every Anglo-Irishman who compose the bulk of Ireland's heroes, their most celebrated legacy?"

And more:

"There can be no progress until the people of Ireland want to move forward, embracing their heritage which is drawn from both the Emerald Isle and England's green and pleasant land."

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