July 7, 2012

Come Away...

        I had been working on a book about a changeling - a somewhat darker story for somewhat older readers - and I'm planning to have a few lines of poetry about fairies at the head of each chapter.  These are not to be nice fairies, not cute fairies, not pretty fairies, but rather they are beings of a world that is beautiful, terrifying, seductive, and cruel.
        I say I had been working on it, because T kept asking me about it and what I'd written and when she could read it, and I knew that it would be a few years before she'd be old enough for this book.  That's when I realized that, rather than fight the battle of refusing to let her read it, it might just be better to work on my other current idea instead, since that will be appropriate for kids P and T's age.  So I've turned my focus away from the fairies for now… But in honor of them, here's an excerpt from a poem that I've always found deeply evocative.
        Written by William Butler Yeats in 1886, it presents fairies somewhat ambiguously.  As described by the verses they seem mischievous, but small - Little People.  As implied by the refrain they appear almost more in the role of angels calling the innocent child beyond the pain of this mortal realm.  But in the last verse Yeats gives us the poignant reminder that there is sorrow in the loss of the world, even when it is a world full of weeping, and that home, with all its tears, may be better than exile in a land without sorrow.
        I give you only the last two verses.  To read the whole thing you can look here.

     from The Stolen Child

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a
We seek for slumbering
And whispering in their
Give them unquiet
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed -
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
From a world more full of weeping than he can understand.

[Picture: woodcut by Stephen Bone, first half of the 2oth century.
(Sorry to have so little info on this piece.  I found it, along with a small amount of information on the artist, here.)]

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