Friday, May 28, 2010

Sailing to Byzantium Redux

Every once in awhile a line from a poem will drop by and stay long enough to make me want to recall more lines, remember why I was drawn to it in the first place. I had noticed recently, as I drove up the lane leading to my place on Upper Whitefish, that the trees and shrubbery left dappled sunlight along the trail. I was smitten by the play of light and so stopped to take a photograph or two.

It seems 'dappled sunlight,' or some version of it, has been turning up in a variety of places and so I went wandering into my mental archives to retrieve the place I first came across it. I knew it was when I was a teenager and that I'd loved the words so much that I'd stolen them for a poem I was writing. With much trepidation, but apparently not enough, I had used the line, "long dappled grass." You can imagine what was coming out of my feverish fifteen year old brain. Luuuve. Yes, sophomoric does come to mind.

When I went on my search yesterday, I turned up W.B. Yeats poem from which I'd borrowed the line. I realized my initial fear of larceny was unfounded and I was not on the lam from the poetry police. It wasn't so dastardly a deed. I then placed it in my mental box marked, "In homage to someone's superior talent," and forgave my fifteen year old self, the one that still lives inside of me.

As I read, I found myself pulled in more and more to his poetry and remembered many lines that I had liked at various times in my life. Some of his lines have entered into mainstream usage in one way or another. It was good to be reminded of their origin. I decided to put some of my favorite lines together this morning and see what showed up. Sort of like magnetic poetry on the fridge. It was fun. And that's the point. I love playing with words. Here it is, stolen line by stolen line. I don't think William would mind.

Horseman, pass by!
This is no country for old men.
Their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones.
Dwelt among wine-stained wanderers in deep woods.
And I shall have some peace there.
Walk among long dappled grass.

The pilgrim soul in you.
Slouches towards Bethlehem.
Tread softly because you tread upon my dreams.
Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart.
Peace comes dropping slow.
Amid a crowd of stars.


  1. that really the road to your place? I love it! Nature highway...
    As usual, a funny, interesting blog. Thanks!!!

  2. Teresa, that's a gorgeous road slicing through heaven. You're truly blessed. And I loved your 'poem'...what talent you have to put this together. Thanks! And have a super great weekend!

  3. Teresa I love your magnetic poetry! The lines you chose to bring together are so beautiful! What a perfect homage to some of the world's best writing. How fitting it should be constructed by you. xoxo Happy Memorial Day to you in beautiful springtime Minnesota.

  4. Thank you, ladies. I hope you each have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

  5. Wonderful! Thanks for your Friday gift.

  6. Thank you, Linda! Have a great weekend! About 19 days to go? : )

  7. You are so clever! Love the poem! The Upper Whitefish is a magical place, isn't it? My folks had a house where the Pine River flowed into the Lower Whitefish! It's long gone, now, but there are lots of memories left.

  8. Cheryl, how fun to know that you have memories of Whitefish. I know the area where your folks place was. The UW is a magical place. Indeed. Have a good weekend!

  9. You are a real fan of Yeats! Reminds me also of several of his poems that are my favorites.

  10. I like your photo of the lane and the names of your places: Lower Whitefish. Seems as if you are a bit back in the woods. A good thing. I do like the task of going back into the literature books for items we studied. Today when we go back and look at Yeats, Eliot, etc., we are jostled into different, associated memories. Dappled grass brings up something entirely different today.

    The first line of Yeats: "Horseman, pass by!" is the title of a novel by Larry McMurtry that was later turned into a movie: "Hud."

    If you are ever down this way, you must go to McMurtry's bookstore in Archer City, Texas. Largest bookstore I've ever been in and filled with out-of-print: two warehouses. It's near the Oklahoma border and away from a lot of yahoos here in the bush.

    What did you get your degree in, Teresa? It must have been literature or music.

    (Jack, Sage to Meadow)

  11. Jack, thank you for your comments. Yes, I am aware of the McMurtry allusion. I've read the book and watched the movie, more than once. I've read many of his novels, including the Lonesome Dove trilogy, of course. Thanks for the info on the bookstore. I will plan an extra day next trip down that way.

    The second line, "No Country for Old Men," is the title of a movie by the Coen brothers which won the Best Picture Oscar just a few years ago.

    Joan Didion wrote a book of essays about her life in California, changed the tense, and titled it,"Slouching towards Bethlehem." Then Joni Mitchell used it again for the title of a song... and on it goes...

    My degree is in Education. I was a H.S. English teacher once upon a very brief time... English major, speech communication/theater minor.

  12. You are living in one of the most beautiful places in Minnesota. The Whitefish Chain is stunning. Such peace and quiet. It never changes yet it is always changing. It's a magical place. Enjoy it, it always welcomes you back.

  13. Mark, Yes, it is magical. I am loving my time here.

  14. Dappled sunlight through the trees is the most ultimately gorgeous nature scene! In fact, for years I've been searching for just such a sofa-size picture to put over my sofa. Sigh...

  15. Isn't it lovely? It's a favorite of mine, too.

  16. Your blog is so beautiful. I love the line-by-line steal. :-)

    I'd never heard of Rainer Maria Rilke until your sidebar. I'm very interested and have gone off hunting for more. He speaks to something in me.

    Just beautiful.

    - Corra

    the victorian heroine

  17. Corra, Thank your for visiting my blog and for leaving such a thoughtful comment. I'm glad Rilke spoke to you. You will find many fine quotes by him. I select a new one, now and then, in order to use my favorites. I look forward to visiting your "place." Teresa