The Race: Yeats Challenge

This is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats Challenge.  Sorry for so many posts today. I’m doing them while I get a chance before I’m back to projects and before Thanksgiving.

This quote is from “The Old Age of Queen Maeve.”

“out of the dark air over her head there came
A murmur of soft words and meeting lips.”—W.B. Yeats

 

Once she was young and fair of face,

she lived life as if it were a race

where she was the brightest and fastest, and before it stopped

she would need to make it to the top.

But now she was confined to a castle tower

so far in time from her bridal bower

and instead of those who loved her well,

it was to her a sort of hell

with only servants and guards who gaped and glowered.

And so, she sat, and sometimes she’d spin,

sometimes ponder, or wonder about her sins

(of which she thought there were many

but as with her life, far from ordinary.)

Of late she had begun to tire,

become very cold, even before the fire,

she thought sometimes her husband, her lover,

was there in the night, his spirit would hover

as if to say, soon, though not today

once again, you’ll dance and sway

in my arms—we’ll be together,

it will be like yesterday

when you were young and fair of face,

but you’ll no longer be running in the race,

a few nights later he came for her,

took her hand and opened a door

the glowering servants saw a faint glimmer

that grew bright, then dimmer in the night

and she was gone, to dance in the starlight.

 

Ford_Madox_Brown_-_Convalescent_-_Portrait_of_Emma_Madox_Brown

Ford Madox Brown, “Convalescent: Portrait of Emma Madox Brown,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Vision in the Night: Yeats Challenge, Day Nineteen

This is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats Poetry Challenge, Day Nineteen.

Today’s quotation:

“We who still labour by the cromlech on the shore,

The grey cairn on the hill, when day sinks drowned in dew,

Being weary of the world’s empires, bow down to you,

Master of the still stars and of the flaming door.”—W.B. Yeats

 

This was going to be a triolet, but it isn’t.  🙂

 

A Vision in the Night

She had a vision in the night

saw by the cairns there was such peace

in utter darkness, shone a light,

stars sang there, they scarcely ceased,

though by the cairns there was such peace

and shadows lingered out of sight

 

Looking up at fiery stars

from high above the shore she stared

wondered if a door opened there

where people dared and peace was shared

from high above the shore she stared,

thought peace lived there beyond the stars

Józef_Chełmoński_-_Noc_gwiaździsta (1)

Józef Marian Chełmoński [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Dream Time, Past and Future: Yeats Challenge, Day 17

This is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats, Day Seventeen. 

Today’s quotation:

“The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,” —W.B. Yeats

 

They sailed on a journey of three years times three

through a cloth of darkness in a starless night sea.

They moved through fog, as if in a dream

and later couldn’t remember what they had seen.

Time passed quickly or slow, they weren’t sure or didn’t know

how to measure it here, nor where they’d go

when they would get there, or where that would be

or if stars would appear in the starless night sea

were they the first people or were they the last,

they existed in a dream time, future and past.

 

The_Future_Began_Here

A Day in the Forest: Yeats Challenge

I didn’t get my Yeats Challenge post up yesterday, so here’s Day Sixteen. I’m also linking it to Dverse’s Open Link Night.  

Jane chose this quotation for Day Sixteen:

“Do you not hear me calling, white deer with no horns?”—W.B. Yeats

 

At dawn the robin sings to greet the coming of the day,

the sun rises then in golden glow to brightly light the way,

across the sky, excited geese soar high in V formation

honking directions and chattering in winged conversations.

 

Young lovers meander in noontime explorations,

declaring their love in breathless exclamations,

taking breaks from work or school for this, a secret tryst,

holding hands, then coming closer, sharing their first kiss.

 

Later, the young white deer gambols in the gloaming

still young without his horns, carefree in his roaming,

but never too far does he wander from his mother’s side

bleating to her when he is scared, listening for her replies.

 

The owl spreads her wings, takes flight in the blackness of the night

she hoots from a branch to tell her mate that everything is right,

nocturnal creatures flit and scurry under the humming moon,

and in an upstairs room, we sleep, dreaming to the tune.

 

Franz_Marc_-_Deer_in_the_Forest_I_-_Google_Art_Project

Franz Marc, “Deer in the Forest,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Lovers: Yeats Challenge, Day Fifteen

This poem is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats, Day Fifteen.

Today’s quotation:

“You, too, have come where the dim tides are hurled
Upon the wharves of sorrow, and heard ring
The bell that calls us on; the sweet far thing.” —W.B. Yeats

 

And so, he came to where the dim tides flow

here upon the wharves of sorrow, dared to go,

listened now for Charon’s boat, the slapping sound of weathered pole

the echoing cries of distant weary souls.

 

But entered he without a fear, played sweetly then upon his lyre

the music that filled the air was warm with sighs and filled with fire

because here within this shadowed world, his love did dwell

playing sweetly then, he cast a spell.

 

The underworld king, his captured queen looked from their gilded thrones,

agreeing that he should not be left bereft of love, nor kept lonely and alone

for such love and devotion, such tumult of emotion he had displayed

crossing over the ocean of darkness, from lighted world to constant shade.

 

They thus agreed, from the underworld she could go,

but promises he must willingly keep to make it happen so–

she would follow him from this hidden world, behind him there she’d be

not once though could he stop to look or see

 

Once round the cavernous steps went he

believing that there behind him, his love would be,

twice round and then up they went, closer to the world of light

when he, not believing she was there, turned to catch a sight

 

Instantly, from Hades he was then thrust out

for not trusting the gods, for having his doubts,

but Aphrodite prevailed to place the lovers’ souls amidst the stars,

traveling the sky as shimmering silvered cars

where like a bell their love now rings,

in music of the stars, the sweet far thing.

 

Jean-Baptiste-Camille_Corot_-_Orphée

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, “Orpheus Leading Eurydice from the Underworld,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love and Glory: Yeats Challenge, Day Fourteen

This is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats Challenge. Today’s quotation is:

“That you, in the dim coming times,
May know how my heart went with them
After the red-rose-bordered hem.” —W.B. Yeats

 

As a boy he saw them there,

she in white, with flowers in her hair,

he a soldier, a handsome young man,

he saw them thus, and so it began.

 

He held this image through his life,

he’d go to war, and have a wife,

who’d say farewell in sunlight gold

and they’d continue, till they were old.

 

He never saw the bloodstained shirt,

the man lying wounded in the dirt,

the woman who traded her white for black,

on lifelong dreams she turned her back.

 

The boy envisioned a life of glory,

King and country, the same old story,

but finally there with gun in hand,

at last he came to understand.

 

Camille_Clere_Verwundet

Camille Clère (1825-1918) (Düsseldorfer Auktionshaus) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

When in Doubt, Sing or Shout: Yeats Challenge, Day Thirteen

So, this poem was going to be something else, but it decided to be this. A bit of fun then, and perhaps a hint of Into the Woods for Jane’s A Month with Yeats Poetry Challenge, Day Thirteen. Here’s today’s quotation:

“Away, come away:

Empty your heart of its mortal dream.”

–W. B. Yeats

 

She ran for hours–or a day

ran off the path to far away

ran from the wrath of the angry queen

ran to the canopy of forest green.

 

Who knows why the queen was in a choler

but angry she was, and heard to holler

for the girl to be whipped, or maybe dead

and so, the girl had run, had turned and fled

 

Finally, when she could run no more

she stopped there, where she’d never been before

and wandered then from the wooded lane

why—she never quite could explain.

 

As though through a door, she walked inside

the air shimmered here, yet she unterrified

of colors brighter, and nothing as it seemed,

a voice said, “empty your heart of its mortal dream.”

 

Before her stood a fairy prince,

or so she thought from her very quick glimpse,

to him she said, “really sir, if it’s all the same

I rather return from whence I came.”

 

Then not really certain of how a fairy to fight,

she sang quite loudly with all her might

and with her song he was beguiled

and surprising her, he stood and smiled.

 

“I’d not keep you here against your will

Why look at you, a child you’re still,

Though because your voice is sweet and pure

I’ll escort you out from our magic door.”

 

And so, the girl went back out into the wood

gathered her wits, as best she could,

ran far away back to the queen,

whose anger had passed, now nowhere to be seen.

 

Be careful then if from the woods you wander,

be careful first, and stop to ponder

if you have the wherewithal to sing or scream

if ever asked by fairy prince to give up your mortal dreams.

 

 

Cover_image_from_from_The_Princess_and_the_Goblins_-_by_George_MacDonald,_illustrated_by_Jessie_Willcox_Smith,_1920

 

 

 

 

A Love Story: A Month With Yeats, Day 12

This is for Jane Dougherty’s A Month With Yeats Challenge, Day 12.

Today’s quotation is:

“He made the world to be a grassy road

Before her wandering feet.”

–W.B. Yeats

 

There was a maiden with flowers in her hair

glorious she was, but with a tragic air.

Yet would the gods so decree

that beauty be the cause of tragedy?

Rather humans create such fights

with jealousy, hate, and righteous might.

 

“I would give you all I can,”

said the young, determined, love-struck man.

“But I would also let you go

if ever that is how you wished it so.”

With that she took him, wed him, then,

and their love was renewed again and again.

 

For he made the world a delightful place

and within it there, they had such space–

for her, he created grassy roads with scented flowers

and there she could wander in day or evening hours

She often said she was glad she’d wed him then

and their love was renewed again and again.

 

Though beauty may pass like a dream,

the rose is deeper than it seems.

Its beauty lies in not only in its shape and form,

but also in its scent that lingers and adorns.

And if wars are fought to capture bloom or bower

that is not the fault of the radiant flower.

Windswept_by_John_William_Waterhouse

John William Waterhouse, “Windswept” or “Wildflowers,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Druid Moon: Yeats Challenge, Day Eleven

This poem is for Jane Dougherty’s A Month with Yeats Challenge, Day Eleven.

Here is today’s quotation:

“Where time is drowned in odour-laden winds
And Druid moons, and murmuring of boughs”

I was dreaming of the ghost in the movie A Ghost Story that my husband and I saw earlier this year. I wrote about it here.

 

I dreamt last night of a ghostly figure

hovering in the air, floating, lost in time,

his silent presence, growing ever bigger

echoing, echoing, like a chime.

What mysterious moments has he seen

while drifting through star-glimmered winds

worlds, ancient, or untouched and pristine?

Or is he here only, stuck, to one spot pinned,

waiting, watching  for something new to begin?

A quiet sentry, under a Druid moon–

was he born too late, or did he die too soon?

 

 

 

 

Night-Tide: Yeats Challenge, Day 10

For Jane Dougherty’s A Month with Yeats Challenge, Day 10.

Today’s quotation:

“And he saw how the reeds grew dark
At the coming of night-tide,”

—  W.B. Yeats.

 

From the cottage window

he watches the winds blow,

scurrying and hurrying

for the day to be through

to turn evening’s dusky violet hue

into the starry indigo of night.

 

How she had loved that sight,

the clouds dancing in the air

the wispy bits of angel hair

white against the darkening sky.

And still he cried

remembering how she’d died

drifting away at the coming of night-tide.

 

He’d been there, sitting at her side.

Now weary, burdened with a heavy heart,

wondering what to do or what to start

Then softly he hears her gentle sigh,

and though it waits for no reply,

as the moon hums and the reeds grow dark

he knows she’s there somehow, a spark

in every fox’s bark and singing lark

her spirit roams by house and glen

somewhere, sometime, he’ll see her again.

 

'Starry_Night'_by_Edvard_Munch,_1893,_Getty_Center

Edvard Munch, “Starry Night,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons