There are some poets who will never be kindred spirits and whose poems are usually far beyond my aesthetic yum-sensors. William Butler Yeats is that way. I took a course on him in grad school, the fall of 2002. I learned that he was a genius. That he did remarkable things with form. And every so often, I read one of his poems that stunned me with its beauty.
I never returned to Yeats after that class, despite my new appreciation for him. That’s probably because though I respected him, he remained a non-kindred. His poems rarely moved me. But I recently came across The Song of Wandering Aengus again and I was surprised at how I love its imagery and its rhythm. I love the cadence. I love the silver and the gold. I love the delicate storytelling. I love the apples. Maybe if I love the poem enough, I’ll start caring a bit more for the poet.
The Song of Wandering Aengus
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old and wandering
Through hallow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon
The golden apples of the sun.