If the date on the top of my screen is right, it’s November twenty-first, and it’s been a long and bony time since I’ve last blogged regularly.
During these months, I’ve been settling into my new house and still don’t have a writing room ready as I’m waiting for it to be painted, but at least now I am actually sitting at my desk, which is set up in a more “public” area, the front den.
I’ve also been reading a lot! and thought it might be a fun idea to blog about my books in reflection posts to have a collection of writings about the books I read. I am also participating in The Classics Club challenge.
So, I was browsing the poetry section in the library and pulled off the shelf a little book that looked so cute (because of its size and spirit, not so much the cover image), I had to read it.
Hm, Great Irish Poets: W.B. Yeats, The Last Romantic by Peter Porter.
After we arrived home, seeing the book on the side table, my husband asked about the man on the cover and thought he looked like he was from the 1990s, possibly from a grunge band. And though we did not comment on the poet’s looks, the introduction mentions that Yeats was considered handsome in his time.
Anyway, the book contains a slim selection of Yeats poems from his early romanticism to late mysticism, and interspersed between the poems are striking paintings by different artists ranging from the mid to late 1800s to the early 1900s, the time period Yeats wrote.
A peek inside the book with a favorite poem from it:
The Folly of Being Comforted
One that is ever kind said yesterday:
‘Your well-beloved’s hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise
Though now it seems impossible, and so
All that you need is patience.’
Heart cries, ‘No,’
I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain.
Time can but make her beauty over again:
Because of that great nobleness of hers
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs,
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways
When all the wild summer was in her gaze.’
O heart! O heart! if she’d but turn her head,
You’d know the folly of being comforted.
Most often songs and poems praise the passing beauty of youth, but here we have the timeless beauty of a woman in old age. True love deepens and strengthens over time. There’s nothing really bitter about this poem, and while poems like “The Sad Shepherd” and “He Wishes for Cloths of Heaven” are bittersweet and a pleasure to read, the optimism of this one is uplifting and brings a smile to my face.
It also reminds me not to believe everything you hear unless it is true to you, even from nice people, as Yeats writes in the first few lines. So if you’re feeling old, achy, and gray this Thursday, or knowing you will be someday, remember Yeats, and age joyfully!