Thursday, January 8, 2009

More stuffing

The Lake Isle of Innisfree, by William Butler Yeats
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.
I've actually stopped teaching this poem, because I can't stand to read another paper about how this is *just like* grandpa's cabin up north. I mean, on the one hand I do appreciate that students love this poem and that they feel such a strong connection to it and it brings them pleasant associations. But, for me, one of the most poignant parts of this poem is that this place does not yet exist for the speaker. It is a place he plans and goes to in his imagination, in his "deep heart's core" while surrounded by grey pavement.

The description of his little cottage is so idyllic, so evocative, so detailed and divine (that "bee-loud glade" and those "veils of morning" - everything sounds shimmering and opalescent), that it seems it must exist. But, it is all what he will and shall do, one day, when he can escape the grey. Like many of us city-dwellers who do yearn for a simple life (or what we believe would be a simple life), growing something tasty, living among natural beauty, the low sounds of waves our new soundtrack.

You can hear Yeats read it - in a high and incantatory way - over at poets.org. It isn't the way I read it, or hear it in my head, but it's his way.

3 comments:

Erika said...

If you want to hear it another way that you don't hear it in your head, Cherish the Ladies have a very nice version set to music. I don't know if it's original to them or not. But it's pretty.

mek said...

Thanks, Erika! I will look for that recording!

Cara said...

So beautiful....