‘Magic mirror on the wall,
who is the fairest of them all?’
Snow White in her glass coffin
I know not what the younger dreams -
Some vague Utopia – and she seems,
When withered old and skeleton-gaunt,
An image of such politics.
Many a time I think to seek
One or the other out and speak
Of that old Georgian mansion, mix
pictures of the mind, recall
That table and the talk of youth,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
William Butler Yeats remains consistently rumored to have had a weakness about Eva Gore Booth and Constance Markievicz. Looking to the contour of the ‘politics’, ‘seek’, ‘speak’, and ‘mix’, one might think that things were so, indeed. Overcoming is part human life.
Yeats wrote about the women’s aging in unfavorable terms. He put himself to distrust with occult empathies and automatic writing. The overtly suffering semantics of ‘The Second Coming’ could not explain the discredit to human intellect that Yeats gave, praising Mussolini. Still, he wrote in an autonomous variety of English, that is, Irish English.
Let me think about the language matter and Dante.
A faithful witness. Thou shalt leave each thing
Beloved most dearly: this is the first shaft
Shot from the bow of exile. Thou shalt prove
How salt the savor is of other’s bread;
How hard the passage, to descend and climb
By other’s stairs.
(Paradiso, XVII; The Harvard Classics series edited by Charles W. Eliot, translation by Henry F. Cary, Grolier Enterprises, Danbury, Connecticut, 1980.)
Would there be the better and prettier, or the uglier and worse — varieties of English? Could we say there is one English language, THE English language? To me, implying a superior status about any of the contemporary Englishes is like putting the Snow White in her glass coffin.
A language variety can be an independent language within a group of languages of the same kind. American English is a variety of English coequal with British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealander, Scottish, Irish, and other recognized Englishes of the world; none is superior or inferior (Travelers in Grammar 2).
Not only does the beauty I beheld
Transcend our lives, but truly I believe
Its Maker only may enjoy it all.
(Paradiso XXX, Project Gutenberg, translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, e-text prepared by Dennis McCarthy, Atlanta, GA).