After the whirlwind that was our visit to Dublin for the Penn State football game, we were eager for a change. It was wonderful for a few days but we’re the quiet types, introverts, really. We needed an antidote to the noise and crowds and . . . well, the noise and crowds.
We found it on the beaches and islands and hilltops.
And we found it in Yeats country.
I’m not knowledgeable about poetry. I don’t read much of it, and I understand less, but I do love what little I know by William Butler Yeats.
When I was still working full time and living in a big city, I kept a framed copy of Yeats’ poem, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” in my room. I even have an old record of Yeats reading his poem!
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
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.
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 gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Innisfree always made me think of “camp,” and our lake, and quiet, still summers away from the world. Just reading the poem could transport me to that place where “peace comes dropping slow.”
Now, we live year-round in the equivalent of Yeats’ “bee-loud glade” and I try, always, to consciously appreciate how lucky we are.
So, as we drove through Sligo, I really, really wanted to visit this special isle. My long-suffering spouse acquiesced and we drove around Lough Gill.
First we found Dooney Rock, which inspired my other favorite Yeats poem, “The Fiddler of Dooney.”
Then we drove down long, single-lane roads until we could see tiny Innisfree sitting just slightly off shore, tantalizingly close but inaccessible.
We couldn’t get to it. We couldn’t walk on it. But, that’s okay—that very inaccessibility preserves the solitude and the mystery and the magic.
Just looking at Innisfree, with Yeats’ words sounding in my head, was enough. I felt it in my deep heart’s core. Where is your Innisfree?