The Irish pillar of poetry


Countless things I’ve never wanted to be… chief among them: a school teacher, though I count some teachers among my greatest influences. Having said that, the fact that I don’t want to be a teacher doesn’t mean I can’t critique their methods.

Like you I sat through English classes, overwhelmed by iambic meter and obscure rhyming (or non-rhyming) schemes. Bless their hearts, if they wanted me to appreciate poetry, the teachers could have skipped pentameter and sent me directly to the poems of W.B. Yeats.

Some of you have heard me go on about ‘The Fiddler of Dooney’, my favorite Yeats poem. To lead you properly into poetry, I endorse the Irishman – excerpts of some of his work are here:

‘A Prayer For My Daughter’

May she be granted beauty

and yet not

Beauty to make a stranger’s eye


Or hers before a looking-glass,

for such,

Being made beautiful overmuch,

Consider beauty a sufficient end,

Lose natural kindness and maybe

The heart-revealing intimacy

That chooses right, and never

find a friend.

A Cradle Song’

The angels are stooping

Above your bed;

They weary of trooping

With the whimpering dead.

God’s laughing in Heaven

To see you so good;

The Sailing Seven

Are gay with His mood.

I sigh that kiss you,

For I must own

That I shall miss you

When you have grown. 

‘A Drinking Song’

Wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye;

That’s all we shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth,

I look at you, and I sigh.

‘A Deep-Sworn Vow’

Others because you did not keep

That deep-sworn vow have been friends of mine;

Yet always when I look death

in the face,

When I clamber to the heights of sleep,

Or when I grow excited with wine,

Suddenly I meet your face.

For something lighter, find

‘The Fiddler of Dooney.’


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