Innisfree

hiatusYeats is one of the great poets of the English language and The Lake Isle of Innisfree is among his best known poems. I was introduced to it through folk music.

I arrived at college just at the end of the folk era. It had basically passed me by in my country-western Oklahoma life, and I was hooked as soon as I discovered it. One of my roommates had been in a high school folk group in Minnesota. He quickly found a girlfriend who could sing (beautifully) and a fellow guitarist, and started playing in the local coffee houses. I borrowed his tenor guitar to learn on, then got a six string, and I was just getting reasonably good when folk music disappeared overnight and psychedelic rock became the rage. Timing was never my strong suit.

My roommates and I were always short on cash, so we shared our stash of records. One of my favorites was Hamilton Camp’s Paths of Victory, but it went with my roommate when college was over. Camp took Yeat’s Innisfree and wrote music for it, and a sweeter song was never sung – at least until Judy Collins sang it a cappella to his music a year later.

This is one of the two or three songs I catch myself singing whenever I am alone and can harm no one. Chances are you already know the poem, but I suggest that you Google judy collins innisfree and hear it sung on U-tube. Or, if you are old enough to enjoy an early Dylan sound-alike, Google hamilton camp innisfree.

  It isn’t hard to find. Clearly, I’m not the only one who loves it.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree – William Butler Yeats – 1892

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 honey-bee,
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 grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

*****

During this last week of the year, I’m taking a hiatus, sort of, by placing some of my favorite poems instead of things I have written. My fantasy short story Prince of Exile will begin here the first full week of next year.

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