There’s something so visceral about a great poem. It’s a feeling they leave after I’m done reading, a charge hanging in the air that settles onto the skin and seeps in slowly. They have a voice, a breath, a heartbeat. Some are serious, some silly. They can change my mood as quickly as a song; they can deepen it with new dimensions. At the end, I find I’m braver or more daring. I’m calmer, freer, easier. More thankful, more joyful. Some poems have the ability to elicit different reactions every time I read them. Others freeze my feelings in time, drawing forth the same emotion that I had the first time I finished.
Tonight, I’m a little sleepy and a little escapist. This is the poem for that:
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
by William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
(It’s strange but interesting to hear someone speak a poem counter to the “natural” rhythm, which is why you should go and listen to Yeats himself read this one out loud. I sometimes play that recording as I’m falling asleep.)