If you read this speech at the start of a novel, would you read on?
I’m thinking of opening Dancing in the Wind with one of Maud Gonne’s fiery political speeches. But my question is: Would you read on if this was what you found in the first pages of a novel?
The question is addressed more to those who haven’t read Book One, Her Secret Rose, as I’m hoping that if you have read that one, everything Maud Gonne does is as fascinating to you as it is to me!
Each book is a standalone, though. You shouldn’t need to have read Book One to be drawn into Book Two.
And I know this breaks more than a few novelistic rules.
Still I’m drawn to do it by one of those urges writers get that they can’t explain.
If you have a spare few moments, would you have a read below and tell me what you think? Answers in the comments box, by email, or on my Facebook page would be super welcome.
Dear people of Ireland
This visit of the Queen of England is a political action, and if we accord her a welcome we shall stand shamed before the nations. The world will no longer believe in the sincerity of our demand for national freedom.
For Victoria, in the decrepitude of her 81 years, to have decided after an absence of half-a-century to revisit the country she hates, and whose inhabitants are the victims of the criminal policy of her reign, the survivors of sixty years of organised famine, the political necessity must have been terribly strong.
For after all she is a woman.
And however vile and selfish and pitiless her soul may be, she must sometimes tremble as death approaches when she thinks of the countless Irish mothers who, sheltering under the cloudy Irish sky, watching their little ones starve, have cursed her before they died.…
England is in decadence. She has sacrificed all to getting money, but money cannot create men, nor give courage to her weakly English soldiers… Soldiers must be found, so Victoria… taking the shamrock in her withered hand comes here and dares to ask Ireland for soldiers!
For soldiers to protect the exterminators of their own race!
Let the reply of Ireland come sadly but proudly, not through the lips of the miserable little politicians who are touched by the English canker, but through the lips of the Irish people. “Queen, return to your own land; you will find no more Irishmen ready to wear the red shame of your livery. In the past they have done so from ignorance, and because it is hard to die of hunger when one is young and strong and the sun shines, but they shall do so no longer…
“Your recruiting agents return unsuccessful and alone from my green hills and plains, because once more hope has revived!”
The first book in the Yeats-Gonne Trilogy, Her Secret Rose is available here.