Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Happy Easter Everyone

I don’t have pictures of the Easter Eggs I’ll be consuming, nor fluffy chicks, bunnies or a religious symbol associated with Easter. There’s plenty of that around already to make you smile. Instead, I Googled ‘Easter Poems’ yesterday and found Easter 1916 by W. B. Yeats. I feel I should be more familiar with this Nobel laureate, and I fell in love with this poem immediately. You may think it’s a sombre and perhaps controversial choice for an English woman as it deals with the Easter Uprising in Ireland (though I have visited the General Post Office on O'Connell Street in Dublin and seen the bullet holes), but to me now it’s a reminder that not everyone will be having a great time today whilst we're all feasting away, and just one day can make a real difference to the way our world turns. It’s also made me think about valuing my friends, family and the comforts I have at the moment. I’ll also try not to be the woman in the poem whose voice has grown shrill!

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road.
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone's in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

9 comments:

  1. Happy Easter VP .. save some chocolate for latter on ! LOL
    Joy

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  2. Yeats is one of my favourite poets, VP, though my poem of choice lately is The Second Coming, because though it was written post WW1 at the height of the modernist age, it seems to reflect things today. "Things fall apart/the centre cannot hold/the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity" (I apply that to our politicians, mostly.)
    Happy Easter and spring, notwithstanding...hope springs eternal with the spring buds.

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  3. A very happy Easter to you Michelle-we share a love of Yeats too.
    Try this one-it has my favourite lines at the end
    http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/597.html

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  4. I enjoyed reading your post, Thanks and Happy Easter. (Its bunnies and eggs on mine.....very boring in comparison!)

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  5. Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies." John 11:25
    I wish you a Happy Easter!

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  6. A belated Happy Easter to you VP ! An interesting choice of poem. Yeats was part of my English Literature 'A' level syllabus many moons ago. I can still clearly recall various snippets including the beautiful poem Threadspider has put a link to. My favourite is 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree'. Here is a link to the words and a 1935 sound recording of Yeats :
    www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=1689

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  7. I hope you are having a great Easter weekend Michelle. It looks like you are keeping busy? x

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  8. Wow - what a lot of poetry lovers you all are. Thanks for the further quotes and links - Jodi, Threadspider and Anna.

    Joy - should that be chocolate fudge in your case ;)

    Suburbia - you've done yourself a disservice, I enjoyed your Easter post very much!

    Hope you had a good Easter everyone!

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