Sunday, December 30, 2012

"...come to this hallowed place
Where my friends' portraits hang and look thereon..."


Tomorrow morning I leave to spend a week in Dublin, Ireland with my friend AB, so the blog might be quiet (though I am working on convincing AC to write a guest post - we shall see).  I hope to have a wonderful time seeing a new city, experiencing a different culture, and having time to relax, laze about and just read.

In honor of the trip, I wanted to share a poem I like from WB Yeats, an Irish poet and playwright, that I felt was fitting, both for my journey to Ireland, and for my traveling companion.  Hope you enjoy it!
 
"The Municipal Gallery Revisited"
William Butler Yeats, New Poems (1938)

I
AROUND me the images of thirty years:
An ambush; pilgrims at the water-side;
Casement upon trial, half hidden by the bars,
Guarded; Griffith staring in hysterical pride;
Kevin O'Higgins' countenance that wears
A gentle questioning look that cannot hide
A soul incapable of remorse or rest;
A revolutionary soldier kneeling to be blessed;

II
An Abbot or Archbishop with an upraised hand
Blessing the Tricolour.  'This is not,' I say,
'The dead Ireland of my youth, but an Ireland
The poets have imagined, terrible and gay.'
Before a woman's portrait suddenly I stand,
Beautiful and gentle in her Venetian way.
I met her all but fifty years ago
For twenty minutes in some studio.

III
Heart-smitten with emotion I Sink down,
My heart recovering with covered eyes;
Wherever I had looked I had looked upon
My permanent or impermanent images:
Augusta Gregory's son; her sister's son,
Hugh Lane, 'onlie begetter' of all these;
Hazel Lavery living and dying, that tale
As though some ballad-singer had sung it all;

IV
Mancini's portrait of Augusta Gregory,
'Greatest since Rembrandt,' according to John Synge;
A great ebullient portrait certainly;
But where is the brush that could show anything
Of all that pride and that humility?
And I am in despair that time may bring
Approved patterns of women or of men
But not that selfsame excellence again.

V
My mediaeval knees lack health until they bend,
But in that woman, in that household where
Honour had lived so long, all lacking found.
Childless I thought, 'My children may find here
Deep-rooted things,' but never foresaw its end,
And now that end has come I have not wept;
No fox can foul the lair the badger swept --

VI
(An image out of Spenser and the common tongue).
John Synge, I and Augusta Gregory, thought
All that we did, all that we said or sang
Must come from contact with the soil, from that
Contact everything Antaeus-like grew strong.
We three alone in modern times had brought
Everything down to that sole test again,
Dream of the noble and the beggar-man.

VII
And here's John Synge himself, that rooted man,
'Forgetting human words,' a grave deep face.
You that would judge me, do not judge alone
This book or that, come to this hallowed place
Where my friends' portraits hang and look thereon;
Ireland's history in their lineaments trace;
Think where man's glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends.

**Blessings to you all for 2013!  Please leave a comment and share your own favorite Irish poems, authors, quotes or sayings.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...