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…


‘Landing Eight’ Progress (or lack thereof): Primo Levi

It is time to return to my self-imposed Reading Challenge task of tackling the ‘Landing Eight’ selection. After several literary distractions (of which more below) I have decided to tackle The Periodic Table by Primo Levi which I have long intended to read. I have been racking my brains trying to recall where and when I acquired my copy. It is an Everyman Classics hardback edition with an introduction by Neal Ascherson. I am almost sure that I bought this one new (I often put my name and date of purchase or gift on the title page, but not this time) when I was a student in Preston. If I remember correctly, I bought it with the proceeds from winning a student prize. Of course, next week I might have a blinding flash of memory and recall the real circumstances. Anyway, as The Periodic Table has languished patiently on my TBR Pile ever since then, the moment to read it has finally arrived.

stack of classics

It’s the fifth one down

I mentioned the literary distractions that have lured me away from my blogging mission. One such diversion was Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, which I found recently on a bedroom shelf. I had completely forgotten that I had ever bought it. It just goes to show how beneficial it can be to clean ones shelves on occasion. The results often amaze me: gems from a foray to a charity shop tucked away for safe keeping. I should make a memo to self about cleaning book cases more often.

There was a Guardian interview with Mantel this week in which the author talks about the ending of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. I can see that I might need the tissues handy at the end just as I did in the closing pages of A Place of Greater Safety when I was crying over the execution of Camille Desmoulins. You know how the story is going to end, but it is just the way she tells it. Mantel manages to bring historical figures that you may never have thought too much about before, alive and kicking. I have a feeling that I may resort to the tissue box once more when Cromwell’s story draws to a close.

Other digressions have involved reading books (with my bookseller’s hat on) for reviewing on the brilliant writers’ website  www.writing.ie . Recent reviews have been on Tana French’s Broken Harbour and Chris Ewan’s Safe House. I have also been trying to keep up with my commitments to Irish News Review with this piece on the sand sculptures on at Dublin castle this month. I have a notebook with ideas jotted down for articles from various activities, so I have no excuse not to keep writing.

At the same time I must push on with Primo Levi; more next time!

A Glimpse of the TBR Pile: A Reading Challenge

shelves of classics

Tantalising Glimpse

A friend has given me a suggestion for a way of tackling my TBR Pile Reading Challenge, so I am basing this piece on that feedback (thanks Teri!). Never let it be said that I fail to listen to sensible advice (especially when I asked for it in the first place).

Various tantalising glimpses have been given of my Landing Bookshelves, but I have not actually written down any of the titles that I may tackle during my trek around the TBR Pile. This post is an attempt to remedy the lack thereof. It will probably be a random list as I am about to leave my computer and browse the shelves for ideas. The plan is to simply jot down any title from the TBR Pile that takes my fancy and present the list to you, dear reader, as an indication of my future (good) intentions.

Before I set off for uncharted (and possibly shockingly dusty) territories, I will just draw to your attention that I have set up a Bibliography page on the site, where I plan to list all of the books mentioned (however briefly) in the Reading Challenge blog posts. Some titles may be out of print, but I will try to remember to give details of dates, publishers etc in case anyone wants to follow up on anything. I hope to update the page regularly and even to maintain strict alphabetical order (that might be a challenge in itself).

(Noises off...)

Now, that was quick; I am back already from the cobwebby wastes of the upper storey with my list of books; in no particular order I hasten to add.

On the menu: The Landing Eight

A pile of classic novels



The Daughter of Time Josephine Tey (Orange Penguin)

The Frontenac Mystery François Mauriac  (Penguin Modern Classics)

The Go-Between L P Hartley (Penguin Classics)

In a Free State V S Naipaul (Orange Penguin)

The Periodic Table Primo Levi (Everyman)

The Diary of a Nobody George & Weedon Grossmith (Guild Publishing)

Murderers and Other Friends John Mortimer (Orange Penguin)

The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan (Orange Penguin)

Some of the above will be re-reads but most of them are genuinely from the TBR Pile that constitutes much of the Landing Bookshelves, but I will leave it until a future date to disclose which are which, thus creating a modicum of suspense. I will not promise to read them in any particular order, but rather as the fancy takes me. I have also spotted a more few books that I would like to write about, but I will tuck them in here and there as a surprise literary morsel in between courses.

Feel free to suggest any preferences as to reading order. In the meantime, I will be busy cleaning my bookshelves; I may be some time.

Until we meet again behind the TBR Pile…