Thus rejected, he cast his eyes
in another direction, letting them fall lovingly on the fair and youthful
Iseult Gonne, daughter of Maud. Yeats proposed to Iseult. Like her mother,
Iseult turned him down. Yeats then voyaged to England where he made
another proposal, this time to Miss Georgina Hyde-Lees. Miss Hyde-Lees
accepted.Yeats threw himself into the restoration.
This was more than fixing up, for there was no separation between the
man and the weathered stones. He dropped the word castle, changing it
to the word thoor, Irish for tower. "I think the harsh sound of
'Thoor' amends the softness of the rest."
From Thoor Ballylee a
very happy Yeats wrote to a friend, "And out of doors, with the
hawthorn all in blossom all along the river banks, everything is so
beautiful that to go elsewhere is to leave beauty behind."Touring the tower, one moves from
austerity to austerity, from a room with unadorned, whitewashed walls
to another of solid gray stone. This could be a monastery.
It isn't difficult to understand
Yeats' choice of the metaphor of soul's ascent, for these stairs could
not have been designed for feet. Wary toes navigate shallow steps. The
passageway is narrow, shoulders brush against the walls. The ascent
is slow, but, one thinks, no one ever said that the the path to wisdom
was easy.Midway to the top is a glass partition
that blocks off a small area behind a window. Here, in a scattered pile
of dried grasses are two bird's eggs where a kestrel has made her home.
When Ballylee became a monument, Mrs. Yeats specified that the birds
were to be allowed their residence in perpetuity. George Yeats had understood.
Birds and bards, both make the landscape sing.
The view from the battlement is
of vast stretches of the Galway plains, and the garden tended by Mrs.
Yeats. Birds sing, the air is sweet. It is a rapturous state until one
remembers that soul may stay aloft, but toes must descend those winding