In Honor Of...

Happy Birthday, Mr. Yeats

I first discovered the work of Yeats in 1997, through the Canadian singer Loreena McKennitt, who’s rendition of “The Stolen Child” became somewhat of an early obsession of mine. Yeats’ poetry paralleled many of my interests at the time; mysticism, Celtic mythology, the occult, and nature all figure prominently in his work, and heavily influenced what I was reading and writing at the time. A few years later an English teacher assigned each student with a poem to study and recite based on what she felt best reflected our personalities. I wonder even now how Mrs. Haas knew me so well as to assign “Lake Isle of Innisfree”. And perhaps it’s reading and rereading have had some influence over what I dream of and yearn for, because little else sounds as perfect as the life Yeats describes on the shores of Innisfree.

In honor of his birthday I collected four of my favorite poems, as well as original photography by me to accompany it. Poems include “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, “The Crazed Girl Poem”, “The Falling of the Leaves”,  and “The Withering of the Bough”.

 

 

 

“A Crazed Girl Poem”

That crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,

Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.

No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, ‘O sea-starved, hungry sea.’

 

 

“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

 

 

“The Falling of the Leaves”

Autumn is over the long leaves that love us,
And over the mice in the barley sheaves;
Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us,
And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.
The hour of the waning of love has beset us,
And weary and worn are our sad souls now;
Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us,
With a kiss and a tear on thy drooping brow.

 

 

“The Withering of the Boughs”

I cried when the moon was murmuring to the birds:
‘Let peewit call and curlew cry where they will,
I long for your merry and tender and pitiful words,
For the roads are unending, and there is no place to my mind.’
The honey-pale moon lay low on the sleepy hill,
And I fell asleep upon lonely Echtge of streams.

No boughs have withered because of the wintry wind;
The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams.

I know of the leafy paths that the witches take
Who come with their crowns of pearl and their spindles of wool,
And their secret smile, out of the depths of the lake;
I know where a dim moon drifts, where the Danaan kind
Wind and unwind their dances when the light grows cool
On the island lawns, their feet where the pale foam gleams.

No boughs have withered because of the wintry wind;
The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams.

I know of the sleepy country, where swans fly round
Coupled with golden chains, and sing as they fly.
A king and a queen are wandering there, and the sound
Has made them so happy and hopeless, so deaf and so blind
With wisdom, they wander till all the years have gone by;
I know, and the curlew and peewit on Echtge of streams.

No boughs have withered because of the wintry wind;
The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams.

 

What poets, if any, influenced your as a child, and did you carry them with you into adulthood?

 

One thought on “Happy Birthday, Mr. Yeats

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