Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In celebration of St. Patrick's Day:

Becky at Farm School has put together a great list of books, music and movies;

Melissa at Here in the Bonny Glen has some additional recommendations.

What is my favorite poem by Yeats? It's impossible to pick just one. I adore this:

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.

But Easter 1916 is probably the one that always gives me chills:

I 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 terribly 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 splashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute to 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
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.

No, I'm not going to have corned beef & cabbage. My great-grandmother (born in Ballyhahill) would be appalled; "it's not Irish, it's a meal of poverty. It's not going to be in my house." So it's not a meal our family eats today, or any day, really. But we will have our soda bread and our tea.


Disco Mermaids said...

Beautiful poem.

As someone just now starting to truly appreciate poetry, I love being directed toward the good stuff. Too bad I didn't "get" poetry in high would've made Literature so much more enjoyable.

So thank you!

- Jay

Becky said...

Many thanks for the lovely poetry and for the mention. You can never have enough Yeats : )

Enjoy your dinner lol and your weekend!

Kelly said...

Happy St. Patricks Day, Liz! I wish I had access to some soda bread...I love it. But, then again, I like corned beef.

Liz B said...

Thanks, everyone!

And I like corned beef, also -- but usually on a sandwich.