My New Boyfriend

So, W.B. Yeats is my new boyfriend. I know very little about poetry, but for whatever reason I feel compelled to read great quantities of it as the threads of my next novel gather. The breadth of Yeats’s subject matter is nothing short of astonishing and each poem is a revelation.

One line I read today made me think immediately of our current political season:

From the poem Fergus and the Druid

“Fergus: A king is but a foolish labourer who wastes his blood to be another’s dream.

In this era of brash incivility, I think we forget (I know I do) that the people we elect to serve us–no matter if they’re Ivy League educated or born of grass roots activism–start out as just that: public servants. I’ve seen firsthand how brutally people are treated once they dare try to serve–getting elected is an ugly, soul-sucking process. We stuff them into dream images of our own creation, then scorn them when they don’t meet our expectations. Some of our leaders become just a little cynical, some unbearable, a very few remain fundamentally unchanged, and some turn (or remain) plain criminal (Sit back down George Ryan and Kwame–yes, I’m talking to you!). But despite the apparent benefits and privileges of political rank, our leaders sit in thankless jobs, warped by the system that put them there.

But you get enough of the political stuff elsewhere. It just started me thinking….

Here is an early Yeats poem, The Stolen Child. A haunting story that speaks to my heart. I’m intrigued by the image of the faery island, and the feeling of enchantment that suffuses the entire poem. It’s going in my notes folder right away.

The Stolen Child
by W.B. Yeats

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 berrys
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 gray 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 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 scare 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.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

One thought on “My New Boyfriend”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The munifisence of his tie in the pictorial is absconding, indubitably!–Professor Irwin Corey

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