#PoetryinJune: W.B.Yeats

Having reached day thirteen of my #PoetryinJune Reading Challenge, we come to another literary festival marking the life of a famous poet. I have therefore decided to choose a poem by W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) in honour of Yeats Day today. This was originally the title poem from the Cuala Press volume (published in 1904) that I mentioned in my feature on Lily and Lolly Yeats. I have copied the text of this short poem from my Everyman’s Poetry edition which contains a selection of verse spanning Yeats’ career.

I first encountered Yeats’ work on my ‘O’ Level literature syllabus, which was more years ago than I care to remember. We also studied W.H. Auden and Wilfred Owen’s poetry, though sadly I don’t have a copy of the text-book. Since Auden has already had a spot in my #PoetryinJune series, I should certainly make room for Owen at some point this month. But in the meantime I hope you enjoy this evocative piece from W.B. As someone who tries to attract our stripey furry friends to the garden, I love the thought of the bees humming in the flowers in this scene. The contrast of the lime-tree flowers with paper flowers a few lines later seems to me to point up the beauties of the country.

book cover of Yeats Selected Poems

Everyman paperback edition, 1997

In the Seven Woods

I have heard the pigeons of the Seven Woods,
Make their faint thunder, and the garden bees
Hum in the lime-tree flowers; and put away
The unavailing outcries and the old bitterness
That empty the heart. I have forgotten awhile
Tara uprooted, and new commonness
Upon the throne and crying about the streets
And hanging its paper flowers from post to post
Because it is alone of all things happy.
I am contented, for I know that Quiet
Wanders laughing and eating her wild heart
Among pigeons and bees, while that Great Archer,
Who but awaits His hour to shoot, still hangs
 A cloudy quiver over Pairc-na-lee.

There’s lots going on in Sligo today to honour its former resident and his creative siblings. The Yeats Society in Sligo was formed in 1958 ‘to promote appreciation of his poetry and other writings, and an awareness of the other members of this talented family‘. The society, based in the Yeats Memorial Building has been running both a summer and a winter school for several years as well as being involved in many other literary and cultural activities.

Click on the Press Release Link for more information about the Second Annual Yeats Day events in Sligo which runs from 8am until late.

Now, I must go and peruse the shelves for tomorrow’s #PoetryinJune verse…

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