William Butler Yeats, Irishman

May 29, 2006 psipsina

We are visiting the Red-Haired Boy’s parents in Bethesda this weekend.  The last time we saw them was Christmas, which is also the day after RHB’s father’s birthday, and there was much celebrating of three occasions, Christmas, RHB’s father’s birthday (December 24, as it happens), and our engagement.  However, RHB’s folks felt that they hadn’t adequately celebrated our engagement, what with the other two occasions, so last night they took us to an Irish pub, Mrs. O’Leary’s in Gaithersburg, for dinner and music.

Mrs. O’Leary’s is adorned with stained glass windows with portraits and quotation from famous Irish writers. The  window for William Butler Yeats has a snippet from “The Stolen Child“:

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.

Now, Yeats is a favorite of mine, and of course I knew he was Irish.  But somehow, sitting in Mrs. O’Leary’s and listening to Irish folk singers put Yeats in a whole new context.  Suddenly I could hear the poem in what I imagined must’ve been Yeats’ melodious Irish brogue.

I went to bed last night hearing it in my head and trying to hear “Lapis Lazuli,” my favorite Yeats, in the same tones, and this morning I woke up hearing “The Stolen Child” and trying to hear “Lapis Lazuli.”

I wonder if there are recordings of Yeats reading his own poetry.  Or if my Irish coworker, A.B., would bat an eye if I showed up at his desk on Tuesday morning, The Norton Anthology of Poetry in hand.


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