In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I was thinking of Ireland this morning. The country has a wonderful blog called Poetry Ireland that celebrates and promotes poetry across the country. Currently, on the main page a literary festival held in Dublin Castle is being advertised. Oh wouldn’t I love to go to that? With my name, I could fit right in.
One of the first poets I fell in love with was William Butler Yeats. His poetry had the lyrical quality of Dylan Thomas’s with a bit more logic to it, an underlying philosophy that was fun to figure out when I was a drunken college student sitting around with the other English majors reciting poetry and pondering the universe.
Yeats’ folklore poems are also brilliant. “The Song of Wandering Aengus” is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing in English. A few years back, my 11th grade English class had been reading a variety of poems and when we got to this one, it was silent for a few seconds after we read it, and then someone said, “Now THAT’S a poem,” and the rest of the class chimed in agreement. We also watched this awesome video of it, which they found a little weird but which added to their enjoyment of the poem.
Yes, James Joyce writes poetically, but I will stick to his short stories, thank you very much. “Araby” and “The Dead” are both sublime poetry in prose form. As a teenager, I used to act out scenes from John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World in my bedroom. I was always the barmaid Pegeen in the Irish pub (my mom’s ironing board), conversing with the playboy hiding out from the world. There is an Irish play with much poetry in it.
These are only a few of the great Irish writers, but the thing is that there is something about the Irish countryside, its history, its people, and its spirit that makes for poetry, no matter what the form of writing actually turns out to be. It is a place I have yet to visit, but I will before I die. I hear Yeats calling to me in his poem “I am of Ireland”:
“Come out of charity
And dance with me in Ireland.”