Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Stolen Child by W. B. Yeats














Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you
can understand.


Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you
can understand.


Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To to waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you
can understand.


Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
from a world more full of weeping than he
can understand.

2 comments:

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  2. This early poem of Yeats is a sentimental favorite. I came to it soon after hearing the lovely version by The Waterboys. In 2000, as we expected our first child, with all the accompanying anxiety, the poem took on a more immediate meaning - the fear of loosing a special treasure. Do parents ever loose that anxiety? Another of Yeats' poems that I have quoted to my son, and to his little brother is "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.


    "I shall miss you when you have grown." There is a poignant melancholy in these poems.

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