Thursday, 18 March 2010

Yeats speaks!

In honour of Paddy’s Day, the day when the land of poets and scholars is honoured by the worldwide consumption of millions of gallons of stout, here’s a few old poems of Ireland’s greatest poet, William Butler Yeats.

The first clip has the old bugger reading a few of his poems himself, including ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree,‘The Fiddler of Dooney,’ ‘The Song of the Old Mother’ and ‘Coole Park & Ballylee.’

Read beautifully, with all the rhythms of poetry.  “I took me a devil of a lot of trouble to get into verse the poems that I am going to read,” he says,”and that is why I will not read them as if they were prose.”

Here’s his best, ‘The Second Coming.’ For “rough beast,” some might read “drooling beast”:

Here’s a beautiful animation of his short ‘Cloths of Heaven.’ 


And here’s a choreographed piece—yes, with dancers an’ all—set to Yeats’ ‘Song of Wandering Aengus’ sung by Christy Moore.’  It’s said to look best if watched in a darkened room.  And presumably with a drink. A dark one



  1. "The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity."

    This has long been my favourite poem, and the couplet above addresses these times well.

    It ties in very well with the C.S. Lewis quote you posted here yesterday, PC. It's the ones who want the mythical Greater Good who will do us in with their "passionate intensity" far quicker and more completely than any single despot ever could.

  2. PC said...
    And here’s a choreographed piece...

    The dancer in that vid needs some serious choreographed funk moves. Perhaps Sheil E can show her how to move as shown here on her stage performance.

  3. @Greig: That couplet certainly does address the times, but I"ve always read it somewhat differntly to you.

    I read it that things are faling apart, "the centre cannot hold" because the best lack all conviction and are doing nothing, while the worst are out there with passionate intensity doing all the damage.

    In that sense, it's a call to arms, not a denunciation of passion.

  4. @PC: No, I agree with you. I guess I just worded it differently. I seem to be good at implying things I don't actually mean. Ask the Drunken Watchman.


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