now it’d be fair to say I was reminded of this poem, which we’ve read before, because I was in Ireland, or because I memorized it, or because I saw actual lake isles, or because I posed with a statue of Willie himself, or because I saw a cabin of clay and wattles made, last week. But more immediately, I was reminded of it during an NPR story this morning about the first responders to last year’s Pulse nightclub shooting, many of whom suffer from PTSD. One man who has not worked since because of the severity of his disability talked about the effect it’s had on his kids, and how he needs to go to the beach and sit out on the water, on a surfboard, in order to get any peace. "Nothing to listen to but the waves lapping, the sound of the wind on the water, thinking about where all the fish are going to…" That took me right back to the final stanza of "The Lake Isle of Innisfree." One thing I didn’t put together about this poem for a long time was where it’s written from and where it takes place–in its own way, it’s a completely urban poem. Yeats even wrote in a letter that its inspiration was a window display for a travel agency in London, that had a little running water fountain… its sound took him back to stories from childhood, including his dad’s readings from thorough to the children.
If ever there was a poem for reading out loud, it’s this one. It’s Monday, do yourself a favor and hear it in your deep heart’s core. -ed.
THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.