GEORGE WILLIAM RUSSELL - AE.
April 10, 1867-July 17, 1935
justified of her children, and if there be no more than one sole
begotten in this war-dreary age of ours, George William Russell has
justified the Theosophical Movement, and borne the banner
aloft, that Helena Petrovna Blavatsky handed on to him.
Out of the Dublin Group of which he was the chief light, and without disparagement of his friends Charles Johnston or Daniel Nicol Dunlop or others of that little band who contributed out of their own measure to the establishment of new ideals and new principles and new methods of life in our time, it is to his credit that he led the way in many paths of action, and as a literary man, a poet, a journalist, an artist, and finally as an economist and a statesman, he built up the model of a national life in which the national spirit could embody itself without debasement, bringing all its varied resources into play, giving liberty to those who lived under it to evolve their own soul-structure, and attain outwardly the spiritual stature of their own inner Selves; enabling all to live in that concordant harmony which so enriches social life; encouraging those less mature mentally, yet allowing them an independence of development which is the basis of true manhood.
In many respects the Irish people would have more warrant to sing they "never, never shall be slaves," than their compatriots across the Irish Seas. The English have never quite understood this, and continue to pray Britannia to rule the waves, while Irishmen would be content to rule their own land. A certain deference to authority, if not servility, makes government in Britain easy. In Ireland there is much civility, but no servility, and as it has been said only a Kelt can understand a Kelt, so George Russell had an advantage in understanding his own people that made it less difficult for him to approach them as a reformer. His innovations were in the tradition of the ancient life of Ireland under pre-Christian forms, and they appealed as they would appeal anywhere to the natural instincts of the people, yet in no way hindering the highest and noblest emotions of religion, charity, and sacrifice.
It has been a taunt flung against Theosophists (that their views were not practical, meaning that they did not provide for the life that men must live in physical bodies. George Russell removed that taunt or the occasion for it, and showed that Theosophy when properly understood can be applied to all kinds of life socially and politically, promoting a nobler sense of right living, while recognizing that the life of the flesh is but a transit experience. It has been the deep marasmus that entered Adyar and still obtains there that they chose to follow a Leadbeater rather than Russell, and worshiped mirages which inflated the importance of personality instead of devoting themselves to the common life of humanity for which Madame Blavatsky labored, and to which Russell gave his service.
Nor was his an ordinary service, but one which entailed the cultivation and happy surrender of the highest gifts and talents which a man may command. Russell toiled unremittingly with body, mind and spirit, to carry on his self appointed task and if ever a god labored with men and for their benefit, Russell's body was the cross on which it was lifted up. Yet he was the humblest, the most modest of men. He looked for no leadership, no elevation, no homage. He did his work and has gone to his peace. He has evoked the passionate love of all who knew and understood him. He is a monument to Theosophy, and his name should be honored in the annals of the Movement while it continues to inspire the world.
We have gathered together in such time and space as was available some tributes from those who knew him, men and women who met him intimately, and also from this press, anonymously, from those who only knew him by reading his books, seeing his pictures, hearing his lectures, or even by the report of his doings, that came to them through others. It may be evidence to those who know little of him otherwise, of what influence he possessed, what mountains he moved, what light he spread abroad in a world of darkness. And beyond all, what a power of love of his fellow men flooded his great heart, a heart loyal only to Eternal Law.
- A. E. S. S.
By P. G. Bowen
"Dr. George W. Russell, the distinguished Irish poet and
Economist died at the Bournemouth nursing home where he had been
undergoing treatment, at midnight on Wednesday, July 17th."
George William Russell, whom the world knew better by his pen name "AE" has passed from this objective plane. His friends and more especially for those who knew the real man, and his real work, his going leaves a blank not easy to fill. He had many friends (he had NO enemies) made during the course of his worldly activities, who can speak of him appreciatively as a writer, economist, or statesman; but he had few, and these for the most part inarticulate, who knew the real man, understood his aims, and were recognized by him not as acquaintances of the day, or the single life, but as souls linked with his in the immortal life. Of these few, I who write, am the last who he contacted and recognized in this present life. We met but little over two years ago, and "Ah, a very old friend, I think", were the words with which he greeted me. That these were no unconsidered words he gave me speedy proof, for he pointed to links existing in what to me had hitherto been the worlds of dream and imagination, but which to him were realms far more real than this world of sense.
Before all else, AE was a Theosophist. With the crystal sincerity, and childlike simplicity which at all times distinguished him, he revealed to me that his aim in life overriding all else was to bring knowledge of the World of Spirit "where all hearts and minds are one" into the clouded sphere of human thought. He sought to bring it to Ireland, his own country, first and foremost, not because he ever forgot the equal needs of the rest of the world, but because he held, and held rightly, as every true Theosophist will agree, that we should cultivate the field which lies nearest to hand with the tool which stands most convenient. His literary pursuits were not followed as a way leading to gain and fame, things to which he was supremely indifferent, but because they furnished a ready channel created by "the instrument built up by many lives," (his personal selfhood), through which might flow "something of the rhythms of the ONE Life", and with their touch "restore to some sort of tune the jangled strings of human consciousness". It is a dullspirit that can read his poems without feeling that they do just this.
So also with his purely worldly work. To him it was an instrument which he used to demonstrate in practical form that individual gain comes not through each man working for self, but through each working for all. Before I met him the following anecdote concerning his work for the farmers' Co-operative Movement was related to me by a country priest. One of AE's, innumerable addresses on co-operation to the peasant farmers happened to coincide with one of the lesser known Church festivals, and the result was that a large number "missed Mass". When chidden by the Curate for their lack of devotion, one of them replied in all seriousness, "Shure, an' wasn't we doin' just as good as to be at Mass, listenin' as we was, to Jarge's sermon down to Ballymascanlan?"
"And in the name of God, I think they were", my informant commented. In preaching practical co-operation, AE always spoke out of his own certain consciousness of the unity of all things in spirit.
AE belonged to none of the great Theosophical societies. In his early youth he had been a member of the Dublin lodge of H.P.B.'s T.S. At the time of the "Judge split", he and the whole lodge followed Judge, but after the death of the latter he resigned, feeling that under the new regime the spiritual light so evident in earlier times in the society had become somewhat clouded. It is not so generally known perhaps, that from 1898 down to 1933 when he left Ireland, AE kept alive in Ireland a nucleus of genuine students under the name of the Hermetic Society. As he himself put it to me, he held it a sacred duty as one who had become conscious of the truth of the Message brought by H.P.B. to keep, as she herself had adjured her followers, "the link unbroken".
The Hermetic Society was founded by Charles Johnston in 1886, and is therefore the oldest Theosophical body in Ireland. AE joined it on resigning from the Point Loma Universal Brotherhood in 1898, and
[[photo here of AE]]
led it from that time until he finally handed over his charge to myself in 1933. The society had no formulated objects, and was in character rather a free and easy club than an organized society. In an early letter to me concerning it AE says: -
"Sometimes it (The Hermetic Society) had a big membership, sometimes a small. It waxed and waned, and waxed again, people coming and going here and there; and I felt inwardly satisfied that they all more or less passed through a bath of Theosophical ideas.
"I had no private doctrine: nothing but H.P.B. eked out for beginners by W.Q.J.; the Bhagavad Gita; Upanishads; Patanjali; and one or two other classics. I did what I could to keep always in line with the Message of H.P.B., and to preserve it from admixture with the ideas of imitators who I found could give me nothing.
"My own writing is trivial, and what ever merit is to be found in it is due to its having been written in a spiritual atmosphere generale by study of H.P.B. and the sacred books of the East. If it has given some temporary light to those that read it, I am happy . . . . . . . . ."
There speaks the real Theosophist which is equivalent to saying the real man. No words which another could speak concerning AE could reveal his quality half so surely as those brief unconsidered remarks of his own. They show like a lightning flash the great, simple, selfless spirit of the man which lives on, though the shape through which it manifested to our dull senses goes back to the dust that it was.
GEORGE WILLIAM RUSSELL, POET OF THE INNER LIFE
By James Morgan Pryse
Announcement of the death of Russell, one of the dearest of my
companions in the good old days of the T.S., came to me over the
radio. By request of the editor of The Canadian Theosophist,
I now write of my personal acquaintance with that greatest of modern
mystical poets. Saddened by the loss of my friend, I cannot
write a glowing eulogy setting forth his genius and his unselfish
devotion to the cause of humanity, and so shall only record a few
I first became acquainted with Russell during his frequent visits to the London Headquarters of the T.S. At one time, when on a walking tour in Wales, while examining Druidic ruins on the Isle of Anglesea, I noticed a small steamer, the Shamrock, that was about to cross over to Dublin. I took passage on it and spent the rest of my vacation with Russell and the other members of the Dublin Lodge. In 1895 by advice of Mr. Judge and Dr. Keightley, I shipped the original H.P.B. Press, which belonged, to Dr. Keightley, to Dublin, joined the lodge there, and for over a year helped Russell and the others to get out the Irish Theosophist. I would have remained there for a longer period, but Mr. Judge, owing to his illness, insisted that he needled me in New York.
When Russell began the study of Theosophy he wrote several fine little poems; but when I rejoined him in Dublin I found him much depressed because his Muse had apparently deserted him. His every attempt to write verse resulted in failure; sorrowfully he said, "My bogy is dead." Perceiving where his difficulty lay, I explained to him that when new to Theosophy he put into verse his own ideas spontaneously; but that his study of the philosophy had filled his mind with new ideas, which he had not yet assimilated, and could not therefore, express naturally. When he had made these ideas his own, I assured him he would write better than ever, having widened his mental scope. To start him up, I proposed that we write poems, alternately for the magazine, an offer which he eagerly accepted. I had quit writing verse while still in my teens, and my only object in penning poems for the magazine was to get Russell going again. His, "bogy" rose from the death, and thereafter for many years literature was enriched by his many mystical poems. I put forward a favorite theory of mine that great poets, painters, etc., always are found in groups, as were the Greek dramatists, and those of Shakespere's time, as also the great Italian painter's and the Cremona violin-makers; they sustain one another like electric cells "coupled for intensity." Thus, ten cells, each of ten volts, when thus coupled have a current of a hundred volts. So we formed a little group of promising young Irish writers, who met weekly to discuss their work. I had to dropout when Mr. Judge recalled me to New York, but Russell carried on the work for years to a splendid consummation, so that a number of brilliant writers brought about the remarkable Irish literary renaissance.
Russell had the faculty of clearly visualizing things psychically. Often when we were together in the evening (as we were almost every evening) I would say, "George, I saw something while meditating the other day" without giving him any clue to what it was, but visualizing it mentally. Closing his eyes, he would see exactly what I had seen, and then with colored crayons he would reproduce it on paper. I have had mesmeric subjects do the same; but with Russell, owing to his natural lucidity, mesmerism was never resorted to. Mrs. Lloyd, of the Blavatsky Lodge, had the same faculty to an even more marked degree. Both were artists. As Russell once wrote me: "Painting is the only thing I have any real delight in doing. Nature intended me to be a painter. I was never taught. I went into an office and wrote poetry. Then because I wrote good poetry I was taken from the office and sent out over the country to organize farmers. When I wrote one or two articles about farmers and their lives I was taken from organizing and put to editing an agricultural paper. When I had learned to do this I was dragged into politics, and now I edit a weekly review dealing with politics, literature and economics." This refers to his work with Sir Horace Plunket, and the editing of the Irish Homestead, which was later incorporated in the Irish Statesman. These activities interfered sadly with his painting and poetry, but were of great benefit to Ireland. A Theosophist to the last, though he quit the T.S. when it became unendurably cantankerous, he held firmly to the Blavatsky tradition.
For years I kept in contact witch Russell by correspondence. He sent me autographed a copy of each book he produced, and I sent him mine. Happily we met again when he was on a lecturing tour in the U.S. Certain educators and wealthy citizens who were apprehensive of revolutionary disturbances in this country had him deliver lectures on economics and his experience in organizing the agricultural population of Ireland. In a letter dated February 12, 1925, telling me that James Stephens was then in America, he wrote, "Perhaps sometime I may find my way over the Atlantic, but I see no chance of it now." But on January 27, 1928, he wrote me from New York, "My dear James, I have already come to your country - landed two days ago - and one of the attractions which brought me to America was the hope that I might visit the Pacific Coast and look you in the face again." But it was not until 1930 that we met. On the 1st of November of that year he wrote me from Missoula, Montana: "I expect to be in Los Angeles on the 17th of this month. I have two lectures to deliver, one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon. I shall seek you out that evening about 8 o'clock, and I hope to sea you again, dear James, after so many years." He was in Los Angeles three days, and each evening I rejoiced in his company from 8 o'clock till near midnight.
Shortly after his first volume of verse, "Homeward: Songs by the Way," was published Russell told me how he came to take the pen-name AE. I used that information in the dedication to him of my work on Prometheus Bound. When I submitted the dedication for his consent and approval before publication, he wrote me: "I am greatly moved, dear James, that you should remember our old friendship and honor me by dedicating to me your translation of Prometheus. I accept it with pleasure." I reproduce the dedication here as a feeble tribute to my dear comrade whom I shall meet no more on earth in this incarnation. After quoting a line from Euripides, "We hold traditions of our forefathers which are as olds as time," it reads:
Recall with me the days, old friend,
When, we in Eire pondered o'er
The old traditions, and you penned
Your earliest poems, but forbore
To write your name, and sought to sign
The name of Man when yet divine.
And from the ether of your heart,
Where yet the fire Prometheus brought
Inspires the ardent poet's art,
In meditation rapt you caught
A murmur, "AEon," naming thus,
Mankind, Gods-born and glorious.
A LETTER FROM AE
Dear Smythe, It was
most kind of you
to send me what you had written about "Vale". You are very
generous in your appreciation. No, it was not Lionel Johnson
or W.Q.J. I referred to. The handsome youth was Edmund King,
one of the Ely Place group whom I never met after the household broke
up. The grey visitor was James M. Pryse who first instructed
me in magic, conjuring up pictures in the astral light, and holding
them before my inner eyes so that I could see initiation scenes, the
evolution of the astral from the physical, the movement of cells and
forces in the body. A good deal of what he wrote in the
interpretation of the Apocalypse he showed me in the "glass".
He was one of the few members of the T.S. who knew things for himself
and had a good deal of occult power. He was really rather a
whose talk and writing had personal knowledge behind it. He,
H.P.B., Subba Row, Damodar, and Jasper Niemand were the only members of
who had their own sources of knowledge, as far as I can know.
of the others wrote either out of intuition or retold what they had
though Pryse said Archibald Keightley; who rarely wrote, knew a good
I am writing a second volume of Candle of Vision. It will be
different, not dealing so much with dreams or visions as with ideas -
psychology of incarnation. I find it difficult to write as I
predecessors in the line I am taking. After that is done I
to complete a mystical tale, "The Avatars," which I began
ago, but my journalism did not leave me energy to continue
it. If I
can keep the remainder as good as the seven chapters I wrote, I think
should be readable. Everything in this island is
quiet. On the
whole we are better off than the English or Germans or Americans in the
matter of unemployment. But the decadence of British
industrialism is going to hit us hard and we shall have a bad time of
it if our statesmen can't formulate and apply a new policy, and it is
difficult to know exactly what they could do. I am dubious
about Tariffs and become more socialistic in my dreams of the
future. But I know no mechanism is going to solve the world's
problems. Nothing will, except the spiritual life.
With kind regards to any of my friends you may meet, Magee,
DeLury, Yours sincerely AE.
17 Rathgar Avenue, Dublin,
20 Sept., '31.
Now you are gone you seem a visitor,
Something that haunted for a little time
The splendor of the evening, or astir
With bees in blooms of lime;
Or, at the hour when mothers tell old tales
To children, something passing through the gleams
Of cottage windows; or, on western gales
Riding, a king of dreams;
Or, about hawthorns lingering to greet
The earliest may among the blazing green,
Or, through the heather traveling to meet
Spirits we have not seen;
A lovely radiance of a passing star
Upon a sudden journey through the gloaming,
Lighting, low Irish dills, and then afar
To its own regions homing.
- Lord Dunsany, in the London Times.
DEAN DeLURY PAYS TRIBUTE
Dean Alfred T. DeLury, LL.D., one of his few intimates in
Toronto, felt that in the death of AE the literary world would mourn
the passing of one of its greatest personalities. They had
known each other for many years.
"George W. Russell became known throughout the literary world in the middle 90's through publication of two remarkable little volumes of poems, Earthbreath and Homeward: Songs by the Way", Dean DeLury recalled. "At once, they were republished in America and students of poetry felt a new poet had come.
"In a reasonably long and very busy life, he did remain true to his gift of poetry, and each succeeding year would see several little poems of outstanding merit in the journals devoted to literature.
"A contemporary and very close friend of W.B. Yeats and later of John Synge, he was regarded everywhere as an outstanding figure in the very significant movement known as the Irish literary revival".
AE was also distinguished as an artist, being looked upon as one who brought something distinctive to the world of art, he said.
Authority on Agriculture
Proof of his versatility in an
was the fact that Sir Horace Plunkett had called on him to be his chief
aide when he was considering plans for the vital work of improving
"For many years, he edited and wrote the leading articles in the Irish Homestead, a journal quite new in that type of periodical. Later, the Homestead, being discontinued, he undertook the editing of the Irish Statesman. Through a long period of years this was one of the brightest of literary periodicals, which in addition to its literary side concerned itself with current political and social questions".
Early in the 20's, AE was induced to come to America on a lecture tour, on which he was received with warmth and acclaim in the leading United States and Canadian cities. On that tour he lectured in Toronto on the personalities in the Irish literary renaissance.
"On that occasion here, he made an impression unequaled, perhaps, by any other man making public appearances", said the dean. "I have never seen an audience so completely spellbound". As a result, he was invited to visit again three years later, during which he again appeared in Toronto.
"About that time, the American Government, feeling more attention should be given to the development of interest in country life, invited him to speak on the cooperative movement in Ireland, and to make practical suggestions on which they might in time be able to act".
So universally was he appreciated, and such was the spell which he cast over those who met him, that his house in Dublin became a centre for celebrities from all parts of the world, said Dean DeLury. One evening each week he set aside when famed personages would come to commune with him, almost to worship him.
Dr. DeLury also writes: "I am very glad to know that you are devoting a number of your journal to the life and work (and their meaning) of AE. As you say, `he should, have died hereafter', but the Fates would not have it so. In him all the active nobilities met, and every one who met him caught a new impulse from his thinking and doing".
In the death
this week of George William Russell, "AE," as he was known in the
literary world, Ireland lost a great national mind and the world has
lost one of its most prolific pens.
George William Russell was the son of a middle-class Irish family of County Armagh, and received only a public school education. His quality as a writer were the inherent imagination of his race, the unplumbed depths of the mystic, the unbounded mind of the dreamer and an intense national pride. Something of the power of those qualities when combined as "AE" combined them can be seen from the long life that has attended his works. His fist book of poems, "Homeward: Songs by the Way," published in 1894, has never really disappeared from circulation.
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. [[the Irish Theosophist may be meant here, but is inaccurate - dig. ed.]] 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.
Its edges foamed with amethyst and rose,
Withers once morse the old blue flower of day.
There where the ether like a diamonds glows
Its petals fade away.
These four lines, among the most beautiful in English literature, are typical of the serenity with which so much of the work of George Russell, who wrote under the name " AE", was infused. His death removes from that galaxy of great Irish writers the most unusual, if not the most eminent figure. George Russell was closely identified with the revival of native Irish literature which accompanied the growth of political nationalism and which centred for many years around the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Yeats, Synge, Lady Gregory, Sean O'Casey; Russell and others worked consciously toward a Gaelic Renaissance. Unlike the brilliant Irish writers of an immediately previous generation, Shaw and Wilde, they looked to the soil of Ireland and within the hearts of their own people for the material of their writings. - Hamilton Herald, July 18, 1935.
George William Russell was a
typical Hibernian, a man with a mind perfectly attuned to the poetic,
the mystical, the beautiful; but a man, too, with an
eminently practical side to his nature. Such rare beings make
an invaluable contribution to the spiritual and material progress of
the race, for while their minds are in the clouds, their feet are
planted firmly upon the solid earth. They make a universal
appeal in their writings. "Man does not live by bread alone;"
though the thoughts of society seem to be almost exclusively
preoccupied with the needs of the body, the dreamer and the seer is
sure of an audience if he has an authentic message to
deliver. And AE had an authentic message. His was
the voice of the inspired monitor, warning a world which was wantonly
-emphasizing the pursuit of luxury, and sinking into the idolatry of mammonism.
His love of the countryside, his real sympathy with the husbandman, laboring at his ordained task, the cultivation of the soil, earning his living "by the sweat of his face" - his determination that greater justice should be done to the peasant and that they should not be sacrificed to the insatiable demands of the cities - in these earnest efforts the Poet became the reformer, which true poets always are. For poetry is not merely a sweet acquiescence in things as they are, but a Prophetic determination to make them better.
"The decay of civilization comes from the neglect of agriculture," he said; "there is need to create, consciously, a rural civilization." His was not the ordinary "back-to-the-land" mentality, which condemned civilization and all its works; but he would bring the benefits of urban life to the country; his land workers would be instructed, cultured, people in a completely congenial environment, with no urge to forsake the farm for the city. It is an ideal which is not impossible of fulfilment.
The results of planning and legislating for the development of cities, instead of for the welfare of the farms, are only too painfully manifest in these our modern times. Unless something effective is done to promote the ideals voiced by this great Irish poet, to whom like the poets of classical times, agriculture was of such vital import, it is to be feared that the "decay of civilization," which he so greatly deplored, will be progressive. - A. J. H., in Hamilton Spectator, Judy 19, 1935
FROM DR. SALEM BLAND
It is only a slender right
that I have to pay a tribute to the variously gifted Irish poet and
public man who passed away a few days ago. I had merely heard
him lecture on his two visits to Toronto, and many years ago came under
the spell of the little volume of mystical poems he published in 1894,
but the impulse to express my obligations was too strong to be
resisted. . . . . . I have for many years been interested in all the
things in which my subconscious mind reveals itself as very much
nimbler and more accurate than I am, that is, in my conscious
mind. It was however to express my gratitude for the delight
given me long ago by his mystic poems, "Homeward: Songs by the Way",
that I was chiefly moved to pay my personal tribute to Mr.
Russell. I came under this spell some
forty years ago and was fond of turning to them, particularly on Sunday
when the day's work was done. I was brought up in a mystical
and was for the first half of my life fascinated by the inward and
aspects of religion. Then the social aspects of religion
began to interest
me more and more absorbingly, and "Homeward: Songs by the Way", and
other mystical literature rather faded out of my life. I have
I would fancy, opened the book for thirty years or more, nevertheless,
did not forget its beauty and the regretted passing of the poet aroused
me the desire to read it and perhaps introduce some readers of The Star
something unusual and worth knowing. - Toronto Star, July 27.
The following lines appeared
in The Toronto Daily Star of July 19 from the pen of Mr. Reade, one of
our most distinguished Canadian Rhodes. Scholars: -
Earth's wisdom is diminished',
Candle's vision is extinguished,
But oh, I count it gain
That I once saw AE plain,
Saw his genial smile, and heard
The deep music of his word!
Tumbling, like waters mountain reared,
From the forest of his beard.
Lover of beauty, wisdom, truth,
Sage who was always guide to youth,
Sweetest of Celtic singers, you
Lived years that were alas too few,
But henceforth, in Song's Heaven, your star
Flames as your country's avatar.
- R. C. Reade.
THE PRESS REPORTS
Bournemouth, England, July 18. - (CP) - One of the foremost
among the group of distinguished modern Irish literary men, George
William Russell, died yesterday in a Bournemouth nursing home, aged
68. A big, thick-set man with a patriarchal beard, Russell
was better known
by his curious pen-name of AE. He was first and foremost a
poet, but he was also an essayist, an editor, a painter and a prime
mover in the revival of Irish agriculture.
Love of Country
He was born in the little town
of Lurgan, County
Armagh, April 10, 1867. All his life he retained his love of
country. For years he went through the countryside forming
societies and explaining to farmers the importance of cooperative
and cooperative credit groceries.
His first volume of poems, Homeward: Songs by the Way, was published in 1894. From then on there was a seldom interrupted flow of works from his facile pen. Most recent was The Avatars, in 1933.
Later he became active in the Irish Agricultural Organization Society and in 1905 returned to the editor's chair to direct The Irish Homestead. In 1923 this was merged with The Irish Statesman, which AE continued do edit. until 1930. Its high intellectual level, however, proved its own undoing, and it collapsed in the latter years.
New York, July 18. - (AP) -
George W. Russell, "AE", considered cities "an actual danger to life
itself," and United States
cities as sharing in that danger.
On several visits to the United States, he warned that city life received too much emphasis and that American civilization was threatened by its lack of "a satisfying village life."
Russell was not only poet, painter and author, but for 25 years he was associated with the Irish Agricultural Organization Society, and it was chiefly on matters of this sort that he spoke when in the United States.
The deep-voiced, bearded Russell - the "sage of Ireland" - spent two months here early this year. He studied the "new deal" with special reference to agriculture, and conferred with President Roosevelt and Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace, an old friend.
"The decay of civilization comes from the neglect of agriculture;" he said last March 1, as he sailed for home. "There is need to create, consciously, a rural civilization.
"You simply cannot aid the farmers in an economic way and neglect the cultural and educational part of country life, or else the children will continue to leave for the cities."
Had Many Interests
Although primarily noted as a
poet, he was an energetic jack of many trades - a painter, business
man, organizer, editor, and co-founder of the famous Abbey Theatre in
He made a lecture tour in Canada about eight years ago.
Already ailing when he returned from the United States a few months ago, he suffered a setback in London during the first heat wave of summer. At that time he told a friend: "I feel cramped in London. I need the sea and mountains, and wide views of the sky."
Russell was in his late
twenties when, in 1894, he published his first book of poems,
"Homeward: Songs by the Way."
The Yeats, "Celtic Twilight" cult had just achieved world prominence,
Russell, with his spiritual mysticism, was immediately taken to the
of poetry lovers. His last book, "House of the
Other Poems," appeared in 1934.
Born at Lurgan, County Armagh, Ireland in 1867, Russell was educated at Rathmines School, Dublin. He entered an accountant's office, but soon grew interested in agricultural cooperative associations, and in 1897 joined the Irish Agricultural Organization Society.
Thenceforward, journalism, literature, painting and agricultural organization divided his attention. He edited the Irish Homestead farm journal from 1904 to 1923, becoming editor of the Irish Statesman in that year. Critics have called the review the most skillfully edited in all Ireland.
Among Russell's published work were: "The Divine Vision, 1904; The Mask of Apollo, 1904; New Poems, 1904; By Still Waters, 1906; The Candle of Vision, 1919; The Interpreters, 1922; Midsummer Eve, 1928; Vale and' Other Poems, 1931; Song and Its Fountains, 1932; and The Avatars, 1933, most of them volumes of poems or philosophic musings.
In addition he published several volumes of essays and a three-act play, "Deirdre," besides pamphlets concerning cooperative farming.
Halifax, July 18. - (CP) -
Here is a word portrait of George William Russell, Irish writer and
painter who died in Bournemouth, England last night, as he appeared on
his last visit to Canada and United States:
" 'AE's' eyes are like well-springs in a wildwood of hair and beard. There is a brook-like hypnotism in his voice. It runs on easily without beginning or ending. Like the others of that modern triumvirate of the spirit, Tagore anal Einstein, this Irish giant is mossy, mossgrown if you will, but his smile refreshes, because like those other two he is acquainted with sorrow yet celebrates beauty."
It came from the pen of Kenneth Leslie, Nova Scotian poet who spent a few hours with "AE" on a liner in Halifax harbor last Christmas and found him "as ready to talk of fat cattle and creamery butter as of Keats and Lady Gregory."
AN ANTE MORTEM STATEMENT
Lord Castlerosse in the Sunday Express of July 21 quoted
Senator Gogarty who had come over from Ireland:
"I was very fortunate," said the Senator, "in finding that Russell had a moment's consciousness a few hours before his death. He recognized me and said, `How delightful of you to come.' I asked him if he were in pain, and if he were breathing easily. He said, `Yes, I am not in pain.' I brought him messages of affection from friends in Ireland. He said very calmly and slowly, `I have realized most of my ambitions. I have had an outstanding interest in life. I have got friend's. What more does a man want?' Then his eyes darkened suddenly and it seemed as if he was falling asleep. Senator Gogarty paused here, and continued: -
"An English poet said of Mr. Russell, `He stood apart and stammered golden things.' But he did not stand apart. His personality was rich enough to suffer no mirage nor aloofness. He was the most amiable and magnanimous soul that Ireland has ever had. His love of Ireland consisted of more than the antithesis of a hatred of England, and therefore it may be some time before he comes into his own".
James Stephens contributed an obituary notice filling a column of the Observer, London, July 21. Among other things, he said that AE had told him that he was not originally robust physically or intellectually, nor of a fundamentally decided character, nor of an especially psychic nature. That he made himself over from very little by a gradual increasing interest in and application of the thought and methods of the Vedanta. He held that to meditate on the ideas of the Bhagavad Gita and to practice the psychological disciplines systematized by Patanjali must astonishingly energize any person, and that these ideas and this discipline had transformed him from a shy, self-doubting youth to the cheerful, courageous personage he certainly became.
Pamela Hinkson in the same journal contributed half a column of reminiscence saying that the first thought was that one could not imagine Ireland without AE. She recalled her mother's long intimacy with him, remarking that she was a devout Catholic, and he professed at one time to worship pagan deities. Yet they met on a common mysticism, and she regarded him a s a saint.
The Manchester Guardian had a sympathetic article on July 18.
Robert Lynd, in the London News-Chronicle described Russell as the practical mystic of his nation, always a passionate believer that the future would make up for the miserable present. "Magnanimity is the rarest of the virtues, and AE contrived to distribute it to every one of the many controversies in which he took part. He was a champion of freedom, of freedom of mind no less than of political freedom, and a champion of the poor and defenseless at all times.
FROM ERNEST A. BOYD
Those who wish to consult the
more permanent memorials, embodied in printed volumes may be referred
to Darrell Figgis's volume in the "Irishmen of Today" series entitled
"AE". This is less a biography than a biographical study and
deals especially with the economic work of which Russell was the
exponent in Ireland.
Ernest A. Boyd, in his Appreciations and Depreciations, writes a most appreciative criticism of his poetry, giving him due credit for his influence as a Theosophist, as he does more particularly in his larger book on the Irish Literary Renaissance, where he devotes a chapter to the Dublin Theosophical group.
It is one of the curious things about our modern journalism that in none of the official newspaper obituaries is there a word about his Theosophy, though he himself attributed to Madame Blavatsky all he was and all he did.
Lloyd R. Morris in "The Celtic Dawn," regards Russell as most closely related among all the English poets to Wordsworth. But Wordsworth could never discern such an individualism of life in Nature as Russell did. Russell was more devoted to the sea than Wordsworth. One remembers in 1912, taking a journey with some Tyrone friends to Port-na-blagh, in the north of County Donegal, where he had and has been in the habit for the past twenty years or more of spending his Summers. Here he painted, composed, and meditated, communing with that Nature which was vital and alive in all its aspects, as man is alive and vital in all his members. Transportation was not so easy as motors and buses have made it since, and we had only an hour to spend with him, but it was the longest interview we had with him since 1898, and it was refreshing to meet and sense and know once more the largeness of his mind and outlook, sweeping like the sea breezes across the world, and continuing pure and lofty above all its experiences.
"AE", says Mr. Boyd, "came forward primarily as an exponent of mysticism, though in such an early pamphlet as Priest or Hero? one can discern the later polemicist on behalf of intellectual freedom. With `John Eglinton' (W.K. Magee), Charles Johnston, W.B. Yeats and Charles Weekes, he was one of a group of young men who met together in Dublin some 20 to 25 years ago (1917), for the discussion and reading of the Vedas and Upanishads. These young enthusiasts created in time a regular centre of intellectual activity, which was translated in part into some of the most interesting literature of the Irish Revival. Their journals, The Irish Theosophist, The Internationalist, and The International Theosophist, contained, a great deal of matter, which has since taken a high place in modern Anglo-Irish literature. It was in the pages of those reviews that the first poems of `AE' were published, and to them we owe a great number of essays afterwards collected by John Eglinton under the title Pebbles from a Brook. Of all who contributed to that intellectual awakening few remain in the Hermetic Society, as it is now called. But `AE' is still the mystic teacher, the ardent seer, whose visions and eloquence continue to influence those about him. One no longer enjoys the spectacle described by Standish O'Grady, of the youthful `AE', his hair flying in the wind, perched on the hillside, preaching pantheism to the idle crowd. His friends Johnston and Weekes are elsewhere, the heroic days of intellectual and spiritual revolt have passed; but `AE' may yet be seen in less romantic surroundings, constantly preaching the gospel of freedom and idealism".
From that Dublin group which included W.B. Yeats, John Todhunter, T.W. Rolleston, as well as those already mentioned, and also Fred J. Dick and his wife, "the slender-lovely candle of the Lord" of his poem, "How?", his own wife, Violet North, who died in 1932, Daniel N. Dunlop, Kenneth Morris, Arthur O'Dwyer, Paul Gregan, and subsequently J. M Synge, and Lady Gregory in their literary capacity, there came what is known as the Irish literary revival.
In 1898 I was in Dublin and had the opportunity on many occasions of meeting most of these, both at the headquarters,
just then transferred to Eustace Street from Ely Place, and had also the sad experience of seeing the last of those lovely and unique creations of Russell's artistic genius and occult knowledge which decorated the walls of the Ely Place rooms, which were being dismantled, and in the hands of masons and plasterers who were busy destroying these priceless tokens of a new age. It was usual for some of this group of a Sunday to go up into the Dublin hills south of the city, and on one of these, Kilnashee, the Church of the Fairies, we would gather and commune with a Nature that was purer than it could be found in any structure of stone and mortar. Alaya, the Master-Soul, was the only leader recognized there, consequently there was no room for envy, jealousy, malice nor any of the uncharity that disturbs the councils of those who insist on following some earthly leader and despot.
What transpired from those talks and communings on Kilnashee is largely enshrined in The Irish Theosophist, but the atmosphere and the memory of those days is a hallowed memory for all who entered into their peace. Little wonder then, that after his American tour early this year, on returning to London, when the first heat wave of this summer fell upon the great city, he told a friend: "I feel cramped after a time in London. I need sea, mountains, and wide views of sky". Kilnashee and Port-na-Vagh no doubt were in his mind, the Ireland he was not to see again.
WHAT GEORGE MOORE SAYS
In George Moore's three
volumes, Hail and Farewell, there are vivid pictures of Russell, and an
affectionate portrayal of him as no doubt Moore knew him in his
heart. He describes Russell's boyhood as he heard it from his
"Yeats had told me how a child, while walking along a country road near Armagh, had suddenly begun to think and
in a few minutes the child had thought out the whole problem of the injustice of a creed which tells that God will punish him for doing things which he never promised not to do. The day was a beautiful summer's day, the larks were singing in the sky, and in a moment of extraordinary joy AE realized that he had a mind capable of thinking out everything that was necessary for him to think out for himself, realizing in a moment that he had been flung into the world without his consent, and had never promised not to do one thing or do another. It was hardly five minutes since he head left his aunt's house, yet in this short space, his imagination head shot up into heaven and defied the Deity who had condemned him to the plight of the damned because - he repeated the phrase to himself - he had done something which he had never promised not to do. It mattered nothing what that thing was - the point was that he had made no promise; and his mind embracing the whole universe in one moment, he understood that there is but one life: the dog at his heels and the stars he would soon see (for the dusk was gathering) were not different things, but one thing. " 'There is but one life,' he had said to himself, `divided endlessly, differing in degree, but not in kind'; and at once he had begun to preach the new gospel."
Moore says he does not include a personal description of Russell, for "All I remember are the long grey pantheistic eyes that have looked so often into my soul and with such a kindly gaze. `Those are the eyes,' I said, `that have seen the old Keltic Gods'." Moore's second volume in this series, Salve, is largely filled with George Russell. He tells how Russell found him a house to live in, and again and again how he consulted him on this subject and on that and always with the successful result of cheerful helpfulness and modest disclaimers. One could quote pages of this record, but the reader must get the book himself. "Everybody in Dublin thinks he is like AE as everybody in the world thinks he is like Hamlet".
"You love the Druids," I said, looking into his calm and earnest face. "When you were earning fifty pounds a year in Pim's shop you used to go to Bray Head and address a wondering crowd. Standing on a bit of broken wall, all your hair flowing in the wind, you cried out to them to return to the kind compassionate gods that never ordered burnings in the marketplace, and I don't see why, AE, we should not go forth together and preach the Danaan divinities, north, south, east, and west. You shall be Paul. Barnabas quarreled with Paul. I'll be Luke and take down your words!" "It would be your own thoughts, my dear Moore, that you would be reporting, not mine;" is the reply Moore puts in his mouth.
Moore reports another saying. "The fault I find with Christianity is that it is no more than a code of morals, whereas three things are required for a religion - a cosmogony, a psychology and a moral code".
In another place he remarks: "Everybody should cultivate a kindly patience, imitating AE, who while going his way can watch others going theirs, without seeming invidious or disdainful. But AE was born with a beautiful mind, and can pass a criticism on a copy of bad verses, and send the poet home unwounded in his self-respect".
On the last page but two of this volume he observes: "I was writing for an hour and went out in search of AE: it is, essential to consult AE on every matter of importance, and the mater on which I was about to consult him seemed to me of the very highest". In the third volume, Vale, he returns to this point. "AE forgets what he gives, but it is difficult for me to believe that Stephens did not benefit enormously, as much as I did myself. How much that was I cannot tell, for AE was always helping me directly and indirectly," and he tells of an incident in case. "As well as anything I can think of this anecdote shows how we run to AE in time of need, and never run in vain;" yet he relates how Russell found fault with him for representing him as blameless as the hero of a young girl's novel.
In spite of the anger of over-quotation we must give one more paragraph, Moore's tribute to Russell's wife. "AE's life is in his ideas as much as Christ's, and I will avouch that his wife has never tried to come between him and his ideas. As much cannot be said for Mary, whom Christ had to reprove for trying to dissuade him from his mission, which he did on many occasions; and if Christ had not chosen to remain a bachelor it is open to us to believe that he would have chosen a Violet Russell rather than a Jane Carlyle."
FROM KATHERINE TYNAN HINKSON
Mrs. Hinkson has written four
volumes of delightful reminiscences and there are references in each of
them to AE, but our space will not permit more than one extract from
these intimate recollections. She knew Mr. Russell from early
days and her opinion of him never changed. Consequently, this
early impression carries with it the authority of a familiar friend,
and the admiration of a skilled writer and judge of
character. In the first of these autobiographical volumes,
Twenty-five Years, the following passage occurs:
"But to return to the Johnstons and Theosophy. Their most considerable recruit - apart from W B. Yeats, who I think, was so passionately absorbed in literature as to have only a transient and hardly sincere interest in other matters - was George Russell, whom we know now as AE, our George then, the world's now. I find this entry in my diary for a day in December, 1887: `W.Y. brought a boy, George Russell, with him. Fond of mysticism, and extraordinarily interesting. Another William Blake!' George Russell was very boyish when I first saw him - shy, gentle, incapable of the lightest form of insincerity, a most lovable creature, as he is today. He is of the world, unworldly - the world's stain has never touched him - without religion, yet profoundly religious; the peace of God which passeth understanding lies all about him now as it did then. He was brought up in the narrowest tenets of Irish Evangelism. I remember when his family was sorely distressed by his association with Willie Yeats. Leaving behind him the narrow and ugly creeds to which he was born, he has adopted no other form of Christian religion: he finds gods in the earth and the air - rather I would say, he finds God; and his life unconsciously has cast incense on the altars of the Unknown God.
"I have known in my time some few undoubted geniuses, three certainly in literature - W.B. Y eats, Francis Thompson, and George Russell. To which I believe I have a fourth in James Stephens. In none of these have I found the beauty of genius as I find it in George Russell. His flame has always burnt upward clearly. There is no room in him for any of the small mean nesses of humanity. There is something strangely benign about him. He keeps his image of God undistorted, undefaced, as few of us have kept it. When I am struck cold, remembering that such and such a one, something uniquely previous of God's making, is no longer of this world, I turn to think upon George Russell, that untroublesome genius. I am glad that in all probability he will survive me, for of him more than anyone else I have ever known, I would say: `We shall never look on his like again'.
"He was a shy awkward boy, with the benignity and the genius shining from him. He adored Willie Yeats and Charles Johnston. He extended his friendship to me. He joined those Sunday parties at Whitehall, and we met elsewhere. He was then an accountant at Pim's, the big draper's in George's Street, Dublin. During the day he wrestled with the prices of blankets and carpets, or perhaps he did not wrestle, for he has a preposterous gift for business of a sort or says he has - afterwards he made poems and stories, and he painted, painted, painted, putting the most lively things on canvas, quite oblivious of how he cast them down and where; not caring greatly what became of them when they were done - feeling, perhaps, that the spilt oblation on the altar of the Unknown God is more precious than the hoarded one. He painted the walls and ceilings of the Theosophical Society's rooms with his wonderful angels and fairies, his mystical dreams and fancies; for he is a mystic to the lips and further as much akin to the Eastern as to the Christian mystic, although the teachings of his youth, arid and bitter, have closed the door for him on these last. If you go to see him today at Plunkett House, Merrion Square, where his business life, which is never without its golden and purple patches, is lived, you will find yourself surrounded by his angels. He told me the other day that he destroyed all his pictures which did not satisfy him; just as he sells them for a wholly inadequate price because he would keep them within reach of the poor man who was minded to give himself a luxury while he would think it dishonest to charge the rich man more".
FROM "CO-OPERATION AND NATIONALITY" (1912)
The list of AE's works
includes, The Candle of Vision, Collected Poems, The Interpreters, The
National Being, Imagination and Reveries, Voices of the Stones, Vale
and Other Poems, Song and Its Fountains, The
Avatars, all of these having been published by the
little pamphlet; Co-operation and Nationality published by Maunsel of
is now out of print, and a few selections from its pages may indicate
the reader what the drift of his mind was in dealing with such urgent
practical matters. These paragraphs are taken almost at
Civilization in historical times has been a flare-up on a few square miles of brick and mortar.
In the New England States there are at the present time about 26,000 derelict farms once held by freeholders. They had everything and more than everything we are trying to give our Irish farmers, and where are they now? The cities nodded and beckoned to the children of the farm and they went, as they are going, and will go, in spite of small holdings, land acts, laborers' plots, and the rest, if the miracle is not wrought and the countryside made a place where a man can enjoy the fullest and freest development of his spiritual, intellectual and social powers. Can this miracle be wrought? It is this question I
will try to answer.
The organized industries, the organized communities, are always wresting any surplus from the unorganized.
In congested Ireland every job which can be filled by the kith and kin of the gombeen kings and queens, is filled accordingly, and you get every kind of inefficiency and jobbery. They are all publicans, and their friends are all strong drinkers. They beget people of their own character and appoint them lieutenants, and non-commissioned officers in their service. All the local appointments are in their gift, and hence you get drunken doctors, drunken rate-collectors, drunken J.P.'s, drunken inspectors - in fact round the gombeen system reels the whole drunken, congested world, and underneath this revelry and jobbery the unfortunate peasant labors and gets no return for his labours.
No country can marry any particular solution of its problems and live happily ever afterwards. Life is an endless struggle, and every nation will have perpetually to adjust itself to new conditions.
A man is not human in the true sense of the word unless he fits into humanity. A disorganized society is like a heap of bricks. Brief may be made but there is no reason for their existence unless they are to form part of a building. . . . The worst thing that can happen to a social community is to have no social order at all; where every man is for himself, and the devil may take the hindmost. Generally in such a community he takes the front rank as well as the stragglers. The phrase "Every man for himself", is one of the maxims in the gospel according to Beelzebub. The devil's game with men is to divide and conquer them. Isolate your man from obligations to a social order, and in most cases his soul drops into the pit like a rotten apple from the Tree of Life.
About 100,000 Irish country people are already members of co-operative societies and their trade turnover this year will be close on three million pounds. The total trade turnover of the movement from its inception till the present, is over twenty-five million pounds . . . . . . . The opposition to this work of agricultural organization had its origin in the little country towns which, for the most part, produce nothing and are mere social parasites.
The Irish country towns only develop mental bogs about them. We have grown so accustomed to these arid patches of humanity that we accept them in a hopeless kind of way, whereas we should rage and prophesy over them, as the prophets of ancients Israel did over Tyre and Sidon. And indeed, a lordly magnificence of wickedness is not so hopeless a thing to contemplate as a dead level of petty iniquity, the soul's death in life, without ideas or aspirations. The Chaldeans - they who built up the Tower of Heaven in defiance of Heaven - had so much greatness of soul that the next thing they might do would be to turn it into a house of prayer; but lives filled with everlasting littleness, fill one with deep despair and madness of heart.
Sometimes one feels as if there were some higher mind in humanity which could not act through. individuals, but only through brotherhoods and groups of men. Anyhow, the civilization which is based on individualism is mean, and the civilization based upon great guilds, fraternities, communes and associations is of a higher order.
Canadian Theosophist, Volume 20, #1 (1939)
A LETTER FROM AE
The following letter from the pen of the late George W. Russell,
in 1895 to Mrs. T.P. Hyatt, is printed by the kind permission of Mrs.
As an intimate revelation of the poet's method of writing, where
became the exercise of a vital and devoted function and privilege and
merely a literary pleasure, it is of profound interest and should be of
to young writers. In 1895 Russell was 29 years of age, not
and wholly devoted to Theosophy, whose principles he never
The influences that eventually changed the whole conception of the
Society from a Universal Brotherhood to be the vehicle of personal
had already begun to operate, and The Irish Theosophist was a protest
the change. Mrs. Hyatt explains that her little magazine, of
Russell speaks, was such a success she had to give it up as she could
employ competent people to look after it and finally had to choose
it and her household.
Dr. T.P. Hyatt is at present on a World Tour, and has been in India and Australia and will return from New Zealand by way of California to his home in Stamford, Conn.
3 Upper Ely Place,
Dear Mrs. Hyatt
I would if I could send you poems, stores and illustrations for your magazine, but I can as it is, barely find time to do the work for the Irish Theosophist.
I have only a few hours; two or three every evening, and the Lodge work here occupies all my spare time. Of course you could, if you liked reprint from the I.T. anything you liked. The Ballads for the Children, with illustrations will, when completed, be issued in a small book together with a few songs.
In the first two volumes of the I.T., I wrote some stories which you might reprint, as they are out of print now, and but few copies found their way to the U.S.A. There were three: The Midnight Blossom, The Dawn of the Kaliyuga, and The Mask of Apollo, which might do. If you thought they would be suitable, I would correct some misprints and errors, and simplify them a little.
Gordon Rowe of 6 St. Edmunds, Regents Park, London, writes Stories for Children, and the Theosophical Publishing Company here is going to get a volume of them published shortly with illustrations by R. Machell. He would, I think, send you stories, as he does not regularly write for any other magazine.
There are heaps of things I would like to do, but there is no time to do them. The most gorgeous ideas float before the imagination, but time, money, and alas! inspiration to complete them do not arrive, and for any work to be really valuable we must have time to brood and dream a little over it, or else it is bloodless and does not draw forth the God light in those who read. I believe myself, that there is a great deal too much hasty writing in our magazines and pamphlets. No matter how kindly and well disposed we are when we write we cannot get rid of the essential conditions under which really good literature is produced, love for the art of expression in itself; a feeling for the music of sentences, so that they become mantrams, and the thought sings its way into the soul. To get this, one has to spend what seems a disproportionate time in dreaming over and making the art and workmanship as perfect as possible.
I could if I wanted, sit down and write steadily and without any soul; but my conscience would hurt me just as much as if I had stolen money or committed some immorality. To do even a ballad as long as The Dream of the Children, takes months of thought, not about the ballad itself, but to absorb the atmosphere, the special current connected with the subject. When this is done the poem shapes itself readily enough; but without the long, previous brooding it would be no good. So you see, from my slow habit of mind and limited time it is all I can do to place monthly, my copy in the hands of my editor when he comes with a pathetic face to me. I hope to do a series of ballads or stories for children, and you can always use them again if you care to. But we have only two or three writers here who regularly write for the I.T., and until they increase in number I feel in a way bound not to withdraw, or write anywhere else, or leave Dunlop, our editor, in a hole.
Now I am really sorry I cannot at present do as you wish. If the Gods would only inspire me a little more vigorously I would write no end, but as it is I have to sweat over my work, such as it is, and often groan that I never have a chance to do it properly. I wish your magazine every success. You should apply to James Pryse for ballads, and songs. No one could do them better than he. He is the greatest literary genius in the T.S., and ought to be worked for all he is worth in that way.
Ever yours, fraternally,
Geo. W. Russell.
See also: Quotes by George William Russell