World Poetry Day

In case you didn’t know, today is World Poetry Day, an international day founded in 1999 by UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. What’s the point? Poetry of course! World Poetry Day exists to celebrate and promote the publishing, reading, writing and teaching of poetry across the globe.

If you’d like to know more, and see a few of the poetry community’s favorite pieces, pop on over to One Stop Poetry for a look. If you get a chance, share some of your own favorites as well – the more the merrier, as they say.

To that same end, for the next five days, I’ll be celebrating World Poetry Day by stretching it out over a week, each day sharing one of my favorite poems from different poets. Hope you like my choices – want to share your own? Comment back! I’d love to hear them.

To kick things off today, I open with William Butler Yeats’s “Sailing to Byzantium:”

William Butler Yeats, care of Wikimedia Commons

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

~William Butler Yeats, 1926

Nothing is as it seems

I woke up early this morning and literally rolled out of bed with this one on my mind. If it was related to dreams I had last night, then it’s probably a good thing I don’t remember them. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy:

Nothing is as it seems—

The old die old,

The young die young,

One perpetuates the other

In waves of maddening

Disillusion not withstanding—

We are players and audience

The stage ours to watch

And ours to play.

But where is the director?

The play plays on in

Such maddening discourses,

There is a plot twist somewhere—

Is this how it was written?

Read somewhere that parents should

They should never have to bury their children,

But the children fight their wars

And the children fight each other

And the old have lived it all.

The mind reflects in odd ways—

Always they remember the old days as better

Days, but they are gone.

Where is the proof?

The mind is fickle, it remembers

What it wants to remember

So the monologue seems better—

There is no difference.

The old are tired.

All they want to do is to lie down,

But they are watching and waiting—

Am I to die?—

But the young are restless

And in their roaming the world

Every moment and monument is theirs—

But they hasten to sleep

And they do not arise,

And the old weep and laugh in terror.