Preface (1923) to Oliver St John Gogarty, An Offering of Swans and Other Poems (1924)
Oliver Gogarty telephoned to me at the Savile Club a few months ago to know where he could buy two swans. Up to his neck in its ice-cold water he had promised two swans to the Liffey if permitted to land in safety.1 I made inquiries, and was able to report in a couple of days that there were certainly swans for sale at a well-known English country house, and probably at the Zoological Gardens. He had been kidnapped by armed men from his house in Dublin between seven and eight in the evening, hurried into a motor, and driven to a deserted house on the banks of the Liffey near Chapelizod. As he was not blindfolded it seemed unlikely that he would return. ‘Death by shooting is a very good death,’ said one of the armed men. ‘Isn’t it a fine thing to die to a flash,’ said another armed man. ‘Have we any chance of a Republic, Senator?’ said a third. They sent a man to report on their success†, and while waiting his return Oliver Gogarty played bodily feebleness that they might relax their care, and the restless movements of terror that they, alarmed lest his clatter reached the road, might bid him take off his boots. He saw his moment, plunged into the river and escaped in the darkness, not hearing in the roar of flooded water the shots fired at random.
- 3.James F. Carens has explained the aptness of the rhythms, diction and wit of ‘Begone, Sweet Ghost’ as an example of Gogarty’s resemblance to the English poet Robert Herrick (1591–1674) (and to the playwright John Fletcher, 1579–1625) — Carens, Surpassing Wit: Oliver St John Gogarty, his Poetry and his Prose (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979) p. 57.Google Scholar