Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Poem: The Wild Swans at Coole, by W B Yeats


The Wild Swans at Coole

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

W B Yeats (1865-1939)

The image above is an installation for Festa - the Christchurch Festival of Transitional Architecture. A line from a Yeats poem floating on the Avon river by the water wheel near the Worcester Street bridge. There was also an event at the weekend, which I didn't attend, where participants could write their own "words on water" - I'm not sure what with, but apparently the words would evaporate eventually, whereas the Yeats installation looks a bit more permanent.

I had initially thought Yeats must be a misprint for Keats, given that it is Keats who has as his epitaph "here lies one whose name was writ in water". But I found when I googled the line that it was indeed Yeats, from this lovely poem "The Wilds Swans at Coole".

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1 comment:

Karen S. said...

Oh yes indeed, (I've actually seen the word writ used often in poetry) a very lovely poem, and the photo is pretty too!