Remembering the Dropping Peace of William Butler Yeats

Jan 28, 2014 by

75 years ago today, on January 28, 1939, one of Ireland’s greatest poets died in France.  William Butler Yeats was a prolific writer, a founder of both the Irish Literary Revival  and the Abbey Theatre ( in Irish Gaelic, Amharclann na Mainistreach, the National Theatre of Ireland), an Irish senator and a Nobel Prize winner in literature, the first Irishman to win the elite honor.

lake-isle-innisfree-ireland

Yeats was born in Dublin, but spent many years in beautiful County Sligo, in the west of Ireland.  One of his most famous  lyric poems, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, written in 1888, is set in Sligo, on an uninhabited island in Lough Gill:

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.

 

The utopian world of the poem is just an illusion, of course, and Yeats himself was far less fanciful in the poetry of his later years, knowing even he “must lie down where all the ladders start/In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.”    (from  The Circus Animal’s Desertion, William Butler Yeats, 1939)

 

I still love his poetry, though, as do many people around the world.   Sometimes, what we need most in the cold reality of daily life is that Yeatsian fantasy of a gentle Celtic beauty patiently awaiting us in the west.

For that small bit of dropping peace, Mr Yeats, we are humbly grateful.

 

Click HERE to listen to Yeats’ reading of  The Lake Isle of Innisfree and  HERE for his explanation of how the poem came to be written.

http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Yeats.php

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Dunguaire Castle in Kinvarra, County Galway, Ireland

Sep 5, 2013 by

indexdun ghuairecastleDunguaire Castle (Irish: Dún Guaire) is a 16th-century tower house on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway, Ireland, near Kinvara (or Kinvarra). The name derives from the Dun of King Guaire, the legendary king of Connacht. Today, the castle’s 75-foot tower and its defensive wall have been restored to excellent condition, and the grounds are open to tourists during the summer. It is thought to be the most photographed castle in Ireland.

One of the principal towerhouses of the Ó hEidhin (O Hynes) clan, the castle was built in 1520,the site marks the royal palace of Guaire Aidne mac Colmain, the legendary king of Connacht and progenitor of the Hynes clan since the 7th century. As with most Irish tower houses of the time, defenses include a curtain wall, machicolations over doors, a murder hole, and parapet.  Archeologists believe the original dun was most likely a ring fort, the remains of which can be found on the small promontory just to the northeast of the current castle.

The castle was transferred to the Martin family in the 17th century, who let it fall into disrepair.  In 1924,  surgeon and poet Oliver St. John Gogarty purchased Dunguaire.  Gogarty began restoring the castle and established it as the meeting place for the leading figures of the Celtic Revival, such as W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Augusta, Lady Gregory, and John Millington Synge.

Today, the castle is owned by Shannon Heritage, who have opened it to the public, from April-October, with medieval banquets at the castle in the evenings. It is a beautiful spot on the Galway coast, and it is well worth the drive to see the ancient home of the legendary Kings of Connacht.

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