I am a poetry enthusiast. In fact, I might suffer from a slight obsession. My recent interest has revolved around the poet W.B. Yeats. Yeats has always interested me. It’s hard to determine exactly which style of poetry or era he belongs to. He focuses heavily on spiritualism and often talks about a divine being. His poetry, to me, is real, raw, short, and sweet. He gets his point across without using too many words. So often I feel as though poets’ points get muddled and lost in the mountains of eloquent sentences and too complicated metaphors and allusions.
Anyway, enough about that. I’ll probably blog my poetry rants and drabbles and obsessions some other time.
So, I picked up a copy of W.B. Yeats early, unpublished poetry at my library. I’ve always had a certain soft spot for unpublished works that weren’t discovered until well after the artist or author’s time. In my mind, it feels like I’m making sure every no word they said or wrote was ever forgotten. (I’m weird, I know.)
This particular copy of “Under The Moon. The unpublished early poetry of W.B. Yeats” seemed immaculate. Though it appeared to be maybe twenty years old, the pages were nice, crisp and clean. At first glance, it didn’t seem like many hands had touched this copy. (which made me kinda sad.) I mulled over the copy very slowly, breathing in every stanza and line. Until I came across one page that was dog-eared. I then discovered it was marking the poem “Love’s Decay.” A few words were underlined:
devious chain. burden. God broods.
A tiny, scribbled sentence was next to the poem. It was difficult to make out, but I believe the first part said, “he won’t wonder….” the last two words I could not interpret.
The poem itself is hauntingly beautiful. It is narrated by two speakers. On being the “she” and the other being the “he”.
Yeats gives a little foreword before the poem, setting the scene.
a riverside. a boat in the bushes. two lovers awaiting the bugle’s call that divides them.
The poem continues as a conversation between the two lovers. Eventually, the trumpet sounds and the “he” goes away to battle.
Oh Mary keep the million hands of battle
harmless as thine own hands when there go by.
The young men or amid the ignorant rattle
of dizzy war they may drop down and die
before they live.