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.