Evening Poetry, September 12

Adam’s Curse

BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

We sat together at one summer’s end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,   
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, ‘A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,   
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.   
Better go down upon your marrow-bones   
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones   
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;   
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet   
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen   
The martyrs call the world.’


                                          And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake   
There’s many a one shall find out all heartache   
On finding that her voice is sweet and low   
Replied, ‘To be born woman is to know—
Although they do not talk of it at school—
That we must labour to be beautiful.’
I said, ‘It’s certain there is no fine thing   
Since Adam’s fall but needs much labouring.
There have been lovers who thought love should be   
So much compounded of high courtesy   
That they would sigh and quote with learned looks   
Precedents out of beautiful old books;   
Yet now it seems an idle trade enough.’

We sat grown quiet at the name of love;   
We saw the last embers of daylight die,   
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky   
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell   
Washed by time’s waters as they rose and fell   
About the stars and broke in days and years.

I had a thought for no one’s but your ears:   
That you were beautiful, and that I strove   
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we’d grown   
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.

You can find this poem in The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats.

Evening Poetry, August 20

For Longing

by John O’ Donohue

Blessed be the longing that brought you here

And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of

desire

That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into

your own unease

To discover the new direction your longing wants

you to take.

May the forms of your belonging–in love, creativity,

and friendship–

Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your own soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of

your desire.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and

nurture you’re feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness

with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost-

structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine

urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs

for you.

You can find this in the collection To Bless the Space Between Us.

Evening Poetry, July 26

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

by William Butler Yeats

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.

You can find this poem in The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats.