A Poem on Thoor Ballylee


Diane wrote this poem when she visited Ireland with her one-quarter Irish husband the summer of 2003, after nursing her younger sister for two years until she died of cancer. It it is based on a trip to Thoor Ballylee (County Galway), summer home of poet William Butler Yeats, about which he wrote the following poem:

  To Be Carved on a Stone at Thoor Ballylee

  I, the poet William Yeats,
  With old mill boards and sea-green slates,
  And smithy work from the Gort forge,

  Restored this tower for my wife George;
And may these characters remain
  When all is ruin once again.

Diane’s poem also refers to the Yeats Memorial on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

After standing in his long shadow
in a Dublin park, both of us heavy,
wearing loose long clothes, having lost
our dearests, I drove out
and wept upon arriving at this place,
reading its name on a plaque at the door,
here where he planted no bean rows
but came with his family, away from the war.
So we had that in common.

Then, I climbed the tower. 
I did not climb into his bed
as another writer told me she did.
I did not punch the buttons to hear
sonorous voices intoning his poems
against the stone stairs.

I climbed in the echo of my own steps
to the parapet, where, all around
I saw kilometers of green, blotted with white
so far off I couldn’t hear them bleat,
could not hear anything animal, nor
human, so far below, not a car
on gravel even. Not even wind.
Just a deep quiet, as of sleep, of rest.
I did not weep then but descended
ready to go all the way back, begin again.

This poem was previously published in the anthology Moments of the Soul (2010).  

Diane Kendig has worked as a poet, writer, translator and teacher for more than 40 years and authored four poetry collections, including The Places We Find Ourselves. A recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Fellowships, she has published recently in J Journal, Wordgathering, and qarrtsiluni. Find her on the web at  dianekendig.com and http://dianekendig.blogspot.com/.

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