Friday, June 05, 2009

Three ducks without a troubling thought and W.B. Yeats on Childhood

I might soon have to call this a weekly, not a daily blog. . . sigh. .
I have been reading and thinking a lot of posts, particularly about memory and childhood.
Many years ago, I picked up this copy of The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats. I don't think he put it together like this--it seems to have been assembled from various writings, perhaps after he died. This is from the first part called Reveries. I am wondering if this is anyone else's experience of childhood. I don't think I felt like this--but then I lived with kind parents, not distant grandparents. I would like to know what YOU, whoever you are, think about this:

"I can only remember my grandmother punishing me once. I was playing in the kitchen and a servant in horseplay pulled my shirt out of my trousers in front just as my grandmother came in, and I, accused of I knew not what childish indecency, was given my dinner in a room by myself. But I was always afraid of my uncles and aunts, and once the uncle who had taken the crowbar to the bully found me eating lunch which my grandmother had given me and reproved me for it and made me ashamed. We breakfasted at nine and dined at four and it was considered self-indulgent to eat anything between meals; and once an aunt told me that I had reined in my pony and struck it at the same moment that I might show it off as I rode through the town, and I, because I had been accused of what I thought a very dark crime, had a night of misery. Indeed I remember little of childhood but its pain. I have grown happier with every year of life as though gradually conquering something in myself, for certainly my miseries were not made by others, but were a part of my own mind."
From The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats, p. 5 in the edition I have.

1 comment:

  1. I do think childhood was fairly painful, although my painful memories are balanced with many pleasant ones. I agree with Yeats' sentiment that life got better and better with each year.