On Through the Silent Lands

1951 by Jack Butler Yeats
Ulster Museum Collections

Bearing in mind Yeats’s poet brother, William Butler, it is interesting to read Jack Butler Yeats’s paintings as poetry. Indeed, the canvases lend themselves to such a reading; the colour is playful, bright, almost garish in the land, and cooler — calm articulated through greens and blues — in the distant land and sky. Colour is picked out in brush strokes that vary as if they were harsh or soft words — small daubs or large clumsy ones; the bridge as a small but perfect clipped phrase, as it delicately stands across the waters waiting for its substantially larger, bent over, protagonist. It is ironic that these lands are ‘silent’; silent perhaps for their walker, who is perhaps walking to peace, though visually they are incredibly emotive, expressed through Yeats’s originally painted words.


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