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Chapter 1

FOUR YEARS 1887-1891.

At the end of the eighties my father and mother, my brother and
sisters and myself, all newly arrived from Dublin, were settled in
Bedford Park in a red-brick house with several wood mantlepieces
copied from marble mantlepieces by the brothers Adam, a balcony,
and a little garden shadowed by a great horse-chestnut tree. Years
before we had lived there, when the crooked, ostentatiously
picturesque streets, with great trees casting great shadows, had
been anew enthusiasm: the Pre-Raphaelite movement at last
affecting life. But now exaggerated criticism had taken the place
of enthusiasm; the tiled roofs, the first in modern London, were
said to leak, which they did not, & the drains to be bad, though
that was no longer true; and I imagine that houses were cheap. I
remember feeling disappointed because the co-operative stores,
with their little seventeenth century panes, were so like any
common shop; and because the public house, called 'The Tabard'
after Chaucer's Inn, was so plainly a common public house; and
because the great sign of a trumpeter designed by Rooke, the Pre-
Raphaelite artist, had been freshened by some inferior hand. The
big red-brick church had never pleased me, and I was accustomed,
when I saw the wooden balustrade that ran along the slanting edge
of the roof, where nobody ever walked or could walk, to remember
the opinion of some architect friend of my father's, that it had
been put there to keep the birds from falling off. Still, however,
it had some village characters and helped us to feel not wholly
lost in the metropolis. I no longer went to church as a regular
habit, but go I sometimes did, for one Sunday morning I saw these
words painted on a board in the porch: 'The congregation are
requested to kneel during prayers; the kneelers are afterwards to
be hung upon pegs provided for the purpose.' In front of every
seat hung a little cushion, and these cushions were called
'kneelers.' Presently the joke ran through the community, where
there were many artists, who considered religion at best an
unimportant accessory to good architecture and who disliked that
particular church.

William Butler Yeats

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