Yesterday I went to see George Russell (AE) in the morning at Plunkett House - 3rd floor, editorial offices of The Homestead.
Susan Mitchell there as sub-editor.
For me the myriad births of stars and suns do but begin,
And here how fragrantly there blows to me the holy breath,
Sweet from the flowers and stars and the hearts of men, from life and death.
We are not old, O heart, we are not old, the breath that blows
The soul aflame is still a wandering wind that comes and goes;
And the stirred heart with sudden raptured life a moment glows.
A moment here – a bulrush’s brown head in a gray rain,
A moment there – a child drowned and a heart quickened with pain;
The name of Death, the blue deep heaven, the scent of the salt sea,
The spicy grass, the honey robbed from the wild bee.
Awhile we walk the world on its wide roads and narrow ways,
And they pass by, the countless shadowy groups of nights and days;
We know them not, O happy heart, for you and I
Watch where within a slow dawn lightens up another sky.
- Susan Mitchell (1866-1926)
Russell very untidy. Longish beard. Gleaming glasses. He said he could not stand the dullness of the walls. So he had given 4 afternoons to painting the whole of them with figures and landscapes.
|George William Russell|
It was Ireland more than the Irish that Russell really loved. It was Ireland he painted - another highly developed natural talent, which he used as a "recreation" when words grew heavy and tedious to work with. And it was Ireland he sought to unify in a great national scheme of cooperative societies. For many years between two careers as an editor, "AE" buried his hatred for travel and toured Ireland, educating the farmers and the county folk along the lines of cooperatives effort, forming in various communities cooperative grocery stores, cooperative dairies and markets, and similar enterprises.
Among his outstanding literary adventures, there were terms of office as editor of the Irish Homestead, an agricultural journal; the Theosophist, which he wrote to a great extent all by himself under various, pen-names. Frequently, when money was scarce, he would use pseudonyms to engage himself in a vigorous argument for the benefit and enlightenment of unknowing readers. His last editorial chair was with the Irish Statesman after its merger with the Irish Homestead, and for seven years until 1930 he managed to keep it alive despite an intensely high intellectual outlook.
As was the case with many of his characteristics, his wit was typically Irish, and he possessed a stinging tongue through which he invariably voiced his criticism of his friends, without, it can be said, losing any of them. A classical example still much quoted was This comment to George Moore, the Irish novelist, during a tea-hour discussion, of a new Moore novel. "You," "AE" told Moore, "are like a porcupine rubbing yourself against the bare legs a child, unconscious of what you do."
For "AE", in spite of the fact that he knew of the musical, qualities of his deep voice, and was intensely proud of it, one of the greatest ordeals was to read his own poetry. He disliked America because of having to read his poetry when he got there, more than because he had to travel to reach it. But it was through reading his poems that a great mass of his follower came to know him and to appreciate more fully what "AE" meant them to appreciate in all his praises of his one great love, his Ireland. - The Toronto Globe, July 19, 1935.
Russell said he had said to Yeats that Moore's "Hail and Farewell" was the finest biography Yeats would ever have.