Wednesday, March 17, 2004

St. Patrick's Day

While I certainly intend to indulge in the stereotypical malt beverage of St. Patrick's Day, I also make a point every year to spend a little time with Irish poetry. Last year, as our nation faced the beginning of war on St. Patrick's Day, I sent to many friends the text of Yeats' The Second Coming. Indeed, on that dispiriting day, it seemed "The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity," and I still wonder what rough beast slouches toward Bethlehem to be born. On this St. Patrick's Day, another of Yeats' poems catches my eye. No real political axe to grind here, just a love of Yeats' poetry.


I KNOW that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My county is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

For all of Yeats' poetry absolutely free, go to this site. The web is a wonderful thing.


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