We are well and truly into Autumn now and with lockdown coming into effect in Ireland for 6 weeks tonight we decided we'd share a poem by Irish author WB Yeats. Yeats poem 'the wild swans at Coole' seems particularly poignant at this time of reflection and looking inward.
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,
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?
In the poem Yeats presents the natural world as brilliant and unwearied, juxtaposed with his own sore heart. In these periods of lock down I like to see an opportunity for nature to repair and rejuvenate itself to it's unwearied brilliance.
The swans also appear to be unperturbed and indifferent to the sore heart of Yeats, instead their hearts are full of passion and have not grown old. It is interesting how he projects his own internal landscape onto the Swans and what they mirror back to him in turn.
Take this next 6 weeks to find a point of introspection and review your relationship with the natural world, listen to the Swans and see what they tell you.
The full name of WB Yeats is William Butler Yeats and he is one of Ireland's most famous poets and a modern day druid or bard. If you don't know him we highly recommend you read his work. Let us know what your favorite Yeats poem is in the comments.