Coming and going are part of the natural rhythm of life. Sligo is Yeats’ country and, before we left its rugged beauty, the man and I trod the narrow road which leads down to a tiny jetty and gazed through the misty rain in wonder at the tuft of land which inspired his best-loved verse. The little isle of Innisfree in Lough Gill is covered with trees and it’s hard to imagine a glade there, 'bee-loud' or otherwise. Yet it’s not difficult to understand how a genius mind, charged with thoughts of politics and theatre and the occult might long for a place of quiet rest.
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.
Peace is a rare commodity, especially when you’re far away or people you love are far from home. We’re on our own this weekend. Daughter and son-in-law are back in South Africa embarking on their grand tour. We enjoyed having them here with us for a few months – they are an inspirational couple whose dedication to life, health, fairness, creativity and excellence are infectious. They push boundaries in each other and unwary companions and we love having these amazing people in our lives. But they’re away again, leaving us waiting on shore. The others are in Milan, London and Reading – living life without us and growing up and away.
Moses knew the feeling. He stood on a mountainside gazing into the valley below where his adopted son was fighting a battle. And yet the patriarch was not entirely useless – while he held up his hands the young man was winning and when he grew weary and gave up, the youth was overwhelmed. Sometimes I think that the waiting with outstretched arms is harder – but it’s mine to do and like the lady on the shore I want to remain steadfast.
In the ancient churchyard of St Columba’s in Drumcliffe stands Yeats’ grave. I cast a cold eye on life and death and laid a bluebell on the headstone in gratitude for the beauty of his poetry and then, although not on horseback, I passed by. For as long as he lived, Yeats heard the call of Ireland. My children travel with my blessing. May none of them forget who they belong to and where home is, no matter how far they roam.
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. (WB Yeats)