No wonder Lord Edward never quite fitted in

John Bayley

  • Citizen Lord: Edward Fitzgerald 1763-98 by Stella Tillyard
    Chatto, 336 pp, £16.99, May 1997, ISBN 0 7011 6538 3

Swift has sailed into his rest;
Savage indignation there
Cannot lacerate his breast.

So wrote Yeats of Swift’s Latin epitaph for himself in Dublin Cathedral, and it had been an epitaph well earned. The fashionable aspect of social indignation was to come later. To the heroes of the Irish revolution, twenty years after the American, it was nothing of the kind. In his poem ‘September 1913’ Yeats was convinced that Ireland in his own time had ‘come to sense’, and had nothing to do now ‘but fumble in a greasy till’. Was it

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