The story opens in 1916. The world is at war, Irish freedom fighters have just staged an armed rebellion in Dublin, and the three characters we first met in Her Secret Rose are deeply unsettled. The world famous poet, WB Yeats, Yeats, “having come to 50 years” has decided he is in need of a wife. The love of his life, Maud Gonne, has just heard about the band of revolutionaries in Ireland who’ve decided, once again, that England’s difficulty (the war) was Ireland’s opportunity (to strike for freedom) and is frantic to join them. And her daughter, Iseult, longs for love and artistic achievement.
As three talented mavericks try to redeem their past against a background of escalating war and revolution, can they rise to what they truly need from each other? Or will lack of understanding destroy their intense love triangle and their work together?
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Dancing in the Wind: This week’s extract: An Astrological Deadline
And then, across in London, there was the poet, and his astrological obsession, now set into a deadline. WB had spent a lifetime poring over the movements of the planets, the moon, and the stars. He only did business with those who paid the mysteries of the sky due respect, by agreeing to have a horoscope cast. He confided in all friends how his own horoscope condemned him to loneliness and bachelorhood.
When he was born, on the July 13, 1865 an hour-and-a-half before midnight, Venus–the planet of love–was square to Mars and semi-square to Uranus. Which any astrologer could tell you dealt him a stellar liability in the love stakes.
All, however, was not lost. He now had it “from the most learned”, that the best time to overcome his celestial disadvantage would be late in 1917, when the planets were set to come together in a right good way for marriage.
That gave him just over a year to find himself a bride and get her to the altar. And now, just as his thoughts turned towards taking a wife, just as he’d found a place in Ireland that he might be able to call home, Maud Gonne was free again. MacBride was dead, executed and immortalized by the rising in Dublin.
The rising–already in his mind The Rising-was a tragic business that was going to affect his work for Ireland greatly and leave the country greatly different. He hardly knew what to think of it yet. (He must write to Lady Gregory.) With the war on, the times were too dangerous for him to encourage men to risks he was not prepared to share or approve and Ireland’s priests and the leaders were not likely to keep the wild bloods to passive resistance now.
Only one thing was clear, with the clarity of the heavens. The words he wrote two decades ago, the work he and Maud Gonne had done together, the intentions they had cast into the astral plane, were coming to culmination.
By this rising Ireland was flung into a new, open moment, where a new way and a new form might be moulded into being. And by the same eruptions of violence, so too were he and Maud Gonne.
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