Friday, March 16, 2007

Poetry Friday 41

In honour of St Patrick's Day tomorrow, I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite poetry by Irish poets. First two poems from William Butler Yeats:

He wishes for the cloths of heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.

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 evenings full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

And then one from Seamus Heaney:

Death of a Naturalist

All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragon-flies, spotted butterflies,
But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
Specks to range on window-sills at home,
On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
The fattening dots burst into nimble-
Swimming tadpoles.

(The rest of the poem, with an audio reading, is available here.)

Happy St Patrick's Day for tomorrow !


Anonymous said...

It was a Yeats sort of morning for me, even before I realized it was the day before St. Patrick's Day (and remembered that he was Irish). It's funny indeed that three of us went for Yeats, and yet none of us picked duplicate poems.

I absolutely adore He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, particularly the lines:
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light

The ending warning resonated with me much more when I was younger -- now it sounds a bit too pedantic to me. But the language in the middle totally makes this a winner (in my estimation).

Nancy said...

Ha! I also posted Yeats today, but not the same selections. I also posted Seamus Heaney today, but not the same selections (I added audio too). Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Michele said...

Kelly those

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light

are my favourite lines of that poem too...

Hooray for lovely language from Irish poets !

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I did Yeats too, couldn't help myself. I did Innisfree (and saw it at a couple of other blogs) and also When I Am Old. You just can't beat Yeats!

Michele said...

Oh I think Shakespeare could give Yeats a run for his money - but then I'm partisan since I'm English not Irish ! *grins*