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Maude Gonne (1865-1953)

No Second Troy

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With Misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

From The Green Helmet and Other Poems, 1910

Maude Gonne, Ireland’s Joan of Arc, chose the man of action, not the poet. She married John MacBride, he gave her his name, and she turned away William Butler Yeats—he named her Helen and gave her the quality of myth. The woman died last week; the name MacBride has long been dead; the myth of Maude will live as long as men read Irish poetry.