Sunday, December 20, 2009

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven - Yeats

The Writers Almanac:
It's the birthday of the Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, the lifelong muse of poet W.B. Yeats. Born in Aldershot, England 1865. She and Yeats were the same age, born only a few months apart, and they first met when they were 25 years old. He was introduced to her by a friend, the Irish nationalist John O'Leary, and later referred to the day when he met her as "when the troubling of my life began."

She was tall and exquisitely beautiful. In his Memoirs, Yeats wrote: "I had never thought to see in a living woman so great beauty. It belonged to famous pictures, to poetry, to some legendary past. A complexion like the blossom of apples, and yet face and body had the beauty of lineaments which Blake calls the highest beauty because it changes least from youth to age, and a stature so great that she seemed of a divine race."

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

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