Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Passion of Irish Men

There are many photos of Yeats, this is my favorite. He looks wise and yet a bit tired, all of man but yet human, the best part of man. He looks deep in thought and perhaps even a bit tired. It's harder to nail down the perfect Yeats poem, there's too many choices, too many thoughts that roll through your head like red wine. I found this one though and thought of Will rocking his new Lilly and since I havent found the words for my own Lilly poem offer this to that gentle reader:

And as any bickering session always turns with the one I love to the time he's spend for just him, pleading with him to push work aside in my own unique fashion, I do love Down in the Salley Garden. It took me awhile to find the right song version, knowing that my Irish father would have wanted a soft gentle voice to sing the song because he wrote of her snow white feet.

DOWN by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not
In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

In 1923 Yeats won the nobel prize in literature and unlike most writers and poets finished his best work after being given the prize and the first Irishman to claim the coveted honor. He sang his song for an an entire nation of people and loved their legend and even loved the occult. He noted Shelley as an influence and I love his works as well, he had great taste. When Shelley wrote about a kiss it was as though no one else had ever heard of kissing before and wouldn't feel the same about it after.

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In another's being mingle--
Why not I with thine?

See, the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower could be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;--
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

PB Shelley

I digress. You only have to look to pop culture to know how many have read Yeats' work and who love him.

And when one things of ephemera you think of the disposable use of a theater ticket or a playbill from some musical in new york you've seen once but it became part of you. So he compares this throw away memory of life's time passing to love.

"Your eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sotrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning."
And then She:
"Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, passion, falls asleep.
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!"

Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,
while slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
"Passion has often worn our wandering hearts."

The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves
ell like faint meteors in the gloom and once
a rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
on the lone border of the lake once more;
turning he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
gathered in silence, dewey as her eyes, in bosom and hair

"Ah, do not mourn," he said,
"that we are tired, for other loves await us;
hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Bfore us lies eternity, our souls
are love, and continual farewell."


And my contribution?

Maybe it's the weather
perhaps the fall, the leaves falling in their deadening dance
someone wrote a dream on every one of those falling leaves
a dream of what they imagined their life to be
in a trip to the opera
to watch a woman dressed as an egyptian princess
sing in italian
everyone suddenly understands italian when its full of such pain
and in fall's opera
there is a young woman
so full of passion's promise
that her cheek turns red with blush
at a man's sweet smile and whispering italian phrase
and to conquer the girl with porcelain skin
he would tell her most anything
he will regale her with stories of white horses
and princes
and their love how it lasts forever

In a quiet moment leaning near a tree
she will ask him
"when is the last time you kissed a woman because if you didn't
you'd die?"
In that question his armor will fall to the ground
and he will be a tiny woodland creature
scurrying for ground cover

and if he is brave and aren't all men who murmur in italian brave?
if he is brave he will stand on the stage
and be naked
and say what he wants
and let the leaves fall where they will
passion is temporary after all and love is not
love is the tender moment when someone holds your hand
because the next moment isn't so easy
and he wouldn't want you to be alone

A man can live on little love
I have discovered this
but when he ia asked to live without passion
something of him dies
he stops believing in the white horses
he's sure they are all gray, and weary and dunked in bleach
their tails pulled into threads

He won't charge into the room with a sword
there will be nothing to fight for
his lawyer will write your lawyer a letter
and when someone asks him "what's wrong?"
he will smile that charming smile and tell you, "Nothing, perhaps I'm just tired is all."

Perhaps it is the weather
perhaps it's the smell of the leaves
maybe it's mozart's inspiration
or seeing one of Yeats' faeries in the garden
while you are pulling up the dead plants of fall
suddenly in the fall air and it fills his lungs
in the shadows all over the ground
suddenly love isn't enough and maybe it never was

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