July 25th. A glorious day in the history of man. On this day in 1915 something incredible happened.
The scene is Dublin, as the citizens of a British-occupied Ireland struggle to determine their place in the world as its oppressors fight a war abroad. Many Irish soldiers did indeed go off to serve, and fight, and die in mud of Flanders or the Somme. Some believed that it meant an opportunity to achieve independence, with England’s resources devoted towards the European continent. William Butler Yeats, the legendary poet and dramatist, was supremely concerned with the voice of thought of the Irish nation.
As such, on July 25th, William Butler Yeats staged his abortive attempt at a follow-up national holiday to supplement Saint Patrick’s Day. To start the festivities, Yeats had purchased several German children on the black market, and had them tied to a post on the middle of the Ha’penny Bridge over the Liffey. Then he released his mutant, carnivorous swans upon them. The children screamed as they were devoured, but it could not be heard over the roar of the crowd. Yeats’ first, and only, “Festival of the Harp” erupted into pagan, ritualistic violence that resulted in the burning of significant parts of Dublin’s slums, and several reported acts of cannibalism.
When criticized for the destruction and violence his holiday had caused, Yeats responded, “Only the artist may decide what is truly destruction”. He then wrote four letters to Maud Gonne and cried himself to sleep.