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Poetry

Jonathan, Yeats’ “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 honey-bee, 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.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

The thing about a poem, especially a short poem like this, which you can very easily commit to memory, is that you don’t physically have to have it with you. It’s there in your imagination. And there’s a way in which you can substitute your own images, your own visual cues for Yeats’. 6078336You don’t have to know precisely what the real Lake Isle of Innisfree looks like. You don’t specifically have to know what a linnet (a bird he mentions in the poem) looks like. You can substitute your own bird. You can imagine your own beehives.

You can’t rush forward. But then also the imagery that he’s feeding you all these words associated with natural calm, with natural ease, words to do with quietness, to do with calm, and transporting you with him. It’s a particularly powerful poem I think in that regard.

 

Categories
Poetry

Easter Morning (Yeates)

1916 by William Butler Yeats
[wallcoo.com]_Easter_wallpaper_1280x1024_1280Easter002I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
That woman’s days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road.
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone’s in the midst of all.
Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse –
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.