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Deirdre Paperback – November 13, 2009
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Stephens tells her story like a poem, and like a children's fairy tale, and like a novel of violence, all at once. He was a flawed writer, sometimes twee, sometimes too philosophical, but this story brought his strength forth. It is one of the great old stories, and no one else has ever told it so well.
Another time, Stephens wrote:
Do not let any woman read this verse;
It is for men, and after them their sons
And their sons' sons.
The time comes when our hearts sink utterly;
When we remember Deirdre and her tale,
And that her lips are dust.
Once she did tread the earth: men took her hand;
They looked into her eyes and said their say,
And she replied to them.
More than a thousand years it is since she
Was beautiful: she trod the waving grass;
She saw the clouds.
A thousand years! The grass is stil the same,
The clouds as lovely as they were that time
When Deirdre was alive.
But there has never been a woman born
Who was so beautiful, not one so beautiful
Of all the women born.
Let all men go apart and mourn together;
No man can ever love her; not a man
Can ever be her lover.
No man can bend before her: no man say --
What could one say to her? There are no words
That one could say to her!
Now she is but a story that is told
Beside the fire! No man can ever be
The friend of that poor queen.
Deirdre is the daughter of a king, and love for her nearly brings about the downfall of the kingdom. It is a magical story with little actual magic and no pookahs or leprechauns or magic crocks of gold-- but magic for all of that.
This book may be his most perfect work. It is a good and faithful telling of a famous tale, and such it is appropriate for 10 year olds who are good readers and love an old story, or for 90 year olds who once were 10 year olds who loved a good story.
It seems a shame that this book is not in every library in the country; thanks to Amazon, at least it can be in yours.