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WILLIE AND THE HARE

One had a lovely face,

And two or three had charm,

But charm and face were in vain

Because the mountain grass

Cannot but keep the form

Where the mountain hare has lain.

‘Memory,’ W.B. Yeats

 

Thomas Cubitt, London’s master builder, built

Woburn Buildings (on the Duke of Bedford’s land);

a pedestrianised street from Woburn Place

to what is now Euston Road, and abutting

St Pancras New Church with its caryatids

and ionic columns. Late Georgian London

on the up. Cubitt noted that hares came south

from Primrose Hill and from The Regent’s Park,

in the evenings, to rest on the paving stones.

 

W.B. Yeats, Willie to friends

and family, moved to the second floor

of number 18 ‘to be close to

the people’ or, rather, to further his

short-lived affair with his married mistress.

(That year Oscar Wilde chose not to cut

and run, and so found himself disgraced).

Willie noted a ‘handsome old grey hare’

resting beneath number 6’s bow window.

 

Two more London adoptees, Ezra Pound,

who brought T.S. Eliot, attended

Willie’s Monday ‘At Homes’, where Ezra

soon made himself indispensable,

dispensing his host’s Bushmills and Sweet Aftons,

then becoming his secretary,

marrying his mistress’s daughter

and dumping her in Paris with their son –

meanwhile making Yeats a modern poet.

 

Two geniuses and their mentor, mere

human beans all three, ambitious, amorous,

apprehensive, came and went – past

the shoemaker’s shop on the ground floor,

the workman and his family on the first,

and gossiped about art beneath the attic

where a pedlar painted water colours.

All are lost like the hares. Perhaps the bricks,

the pavings remember.

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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