Poetry Friday welcomes guest blogger William Butler Yeats

Kate and I both love Yeats. Since his works entered the public domain in January, 2010, and since he writes the best Faerie poems (and summer does belong to the Folk, after all) we decided to give him the floor today. From early to late – his Collected Works lists Politics as one of his last poems…

Below are a few of our personal favorites (and wow, it was hard to choose!). We’d love it if you shared yours in the comment stream.

Lisa and Kate

THE SONG OF WANDERING AENGUS

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

A DRINKING SONG

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

POLITICS

`In our time the destiny of man presents its meanings in
political terms’ – Thomas Mann

How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?
Yet here’s a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there’s a politician
That has read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war’s alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms!

THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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2 responses to “Poetry Friday welcomes guest blogger William Butler Yeats

  1. Jar O' Marbles

    THE FALLING OF THE LEAVES

    by: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

    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 Falling of the Leaves” is reprinted from Crossways. W.B. Yeats. 1889.

  2. The Stolen Child

    Where dips the rocky highland
    Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
    There lies a leafy island
    Where flapping herons wake
    The drowsy water-rats;
    There we’ve hid our faery vats,
    Full of berries
    And of reddest stolen cherries.
    Come away, O human child!
    To the waters and the wild
    With a faery, hand in hand,
    For the world’s more full of weeping
    Than you can understand.
    Where the wave of moonlight glosses
    The dim grey sands with light,
    Far off by furthest Rosses
    We foot it all the night,
    Weaving olden dances,
    Mingling hands and mingling glances
    Till the moon has taken flight;
    To and fro we leap
    And chase the frothy bubbles,
    While the world is full of troubles
    And is anxious in its sleep.
    Come away, O human child!
    To the waters and the wild
    With a faery, hand in hand,
    For the world’s more full of weeping
    Than you can understand.
    Where the wandering water gushes
    from the hills above Glen-Car,
    In pools among the rushes
    that scarce could bathe a star,
    We seek for slumbering trout
    And whispering in their ears
    Give them unquiet dreams;
    Leaning softly out
    From ferns that drop their tears
    Over the young streams.
    Come away, O human child!
    To the waters and the wild
    With a faery, hand in hand,
    For the world’s more full of weeping
    Than you can understand.
    Away with us he’s going,
    The solemn-eyed;
    He’ll hear no more the lowing
    Of the calves on the warm hillside
    Or the kettle on the hob
    Sing peace into his breast,
    Or see the brown mice bob
    Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
    He comes, the human child,
    To the waters and the wild
    With a faery, hand in hand,
    From a world more full of weeping
    Than he could understand..

    I read this poem for Christopher/after he took his own life/it helped us, (his friends) accept our loss.

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