Monday, March 23, 2009

Crazy Jane Talks With the Bishop

Crazy Jane, the heroine of Wayne Clifford's forthcoming collection Jane Again, was originally a creation of W. B. Yeats, who based her on a vagrant woman known by the name of Cracked Mary. Clifford gives his own Jane much more elbow room in this collection than Yeats did in his own work -- there's not many more than half-a-dozen Crazy Jane poems in the Yeatsian repertoire. In an interview with press intern Laurie Smith we'll be posting here closer to the book's launch, Clifford recalls first coming across Jane while reading as a teen in his local library. It was in a poem entitled Crazy Jane Talks With the Bishop, and it's been lingering with me for many a week since I first read it.

Crazy Jane Talks With The Bishop

I met the Bishop on the road
And much said he and I.
'Those breasts are flat and fallen now,
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty.'

'Fair and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul,' I cried.
'My friends are gone, but that's a truth
Nor grave nor bed denied,
Learned in bodily lowliness
And in the heart's pride.

'A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.'

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