Tags

, , ,

It’s been another difficult week for this world, and our hearts are heavy for those lost in the Navy Yard Shootings.  This morning I woke up with poetry in my head, ringing over and over like a ghostly refrain:

“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….

Written in 1886 and published in in 1889 in The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems, Yeats’ poem is full of longing for innocence and a desire for freedom from earthly fears and dissatisfaction, “[w]hile the world is full of troubles/And anxious in its sleep.” Yet, there’s a great sense of danger and of loss as well, for the child being lured away with promises of paradise. Will the playful games with the slumbering trout near the waterfall pictured above be enough to replace the sounds of cattle lowing near his home? Still, for me, in times like these, his words are comforting in their fantasy and their acknowledgement that the “world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”

The Stolen Child

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
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.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
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.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
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.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

A favorite Celtic singer of mine, Loreena McKennitt, did an incredible version of this poem in song on her album Elemental (highly recommended), a live version of which, just as good as the original, is shown below. Watch it: I dare you not to cry at the mere sound of her voice. It is truly unearthly.

Advertisements