November Yeats Challenge: Day Two

Another darkly mysterious quote for the dark season. There may be a name for the form my poem has taken—8 8 8 4 8 8 8 4 8 8 8 8 4—but if there is I don’t know it. Feel free to use it, or a variant of it with a rhyme scheme perhaps.

I’m posting this one in the dverse open link night. I am dedicating this month to Yeats, a line every day, so look in and be inspired.


“… the dark folk who live in souls
Of passionate men, like bats in the dead trees;” —W.B. Yeats


They are there at break of day


They are there at the break of day,

As they were when the sun went down,

The paper whispered voices of

Our secrets dark.


In the stirred river-bottom mud,

As in the chill between the stars,

The airless catch in the throat, lie

The ghosts of loss.


Yet when the sun goes down I hear,

Or seem to, beating in the air,

Like the soft wings of the robin,

The plush bestirrings of the bat,

Sighs of regret.




Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

87 thoughts on “November Yeats Challenge: Day Two”

  1. Have no regret Jane this is so moving. You can read this poem any way you you wish, personal, political , terror or calm it works perfectly on all levels. You set the bar high 💜💜🌹

  2. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I hear the overtones now—At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. When we think, waste, inevitably thoughts turn to this particular war.

      1. Yep! Been there with Harrison. I love the poem that this line comes from, by the way. Stirring.
        I wrote from this today, but it lacks a title, so I won’t post until I have my stuff together. Will come back and read yours in just a bit!

  3. When I read this over after the comment–yes, it does sound like a poem for armistice (or about almost any war, I suppose).
    Magical Yeats and a wonderful response from you, Jane. I do like this form (now dubbed the Inverted Minute). 🙂

      1. There’s a big debate in France right now about shaking up the language. It’s a beautiful language but it’s burdened as all Latin languages are by the gender problem. Every noun is either masculine or feminine. Where it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever if a chair is feminine and a vacuum cleaner is masculine, it gets problematic when the nouns actually do have a gender, like student, teacher, doctor, president etc etc, and they are all masculine. The complications of making them appropriate to the person involved are giving the Académie Française nightmares.

      2. ☺French then must be similar to Hindi. Hindi, India’s national language, is not my mother tongue. I could never figure out which one is masculine and which one is feminine and did rather poorly in the exams because of that. Thanks God the misery was over after eighth grade.

      3. The whole concept of having female chairs but masculine vacuum cleaners is weird. Then when you have something that really is feminine like a school teacher or a doctor, she had to be masculine. There’s grounds for a shake up. I think Danish is a language that used to have masculine and feminine nouns and just ditched the concept altogether so it’s like English. Furniture is neutral 🙂

      4. I try to imagine a roomful of sages deciding whether a chair is going to be masculine or feminine, and the arguments. They must have been really short of things to do.

    1. Thanks Frank! I see the pingback—they maybe take a while to show up as they have to be approved manually and if you post when I’m away from the computer, it has to wait until I get back 🙂

    1. Maybe it was my muddled thinking 🙂 I meant to give the idea of the dark things deep in our thoughts, the less than admirable or shameful things we’ve done, coming out perhaps, sometimes, as regret, like an acceptance, and it’s a soft, gentle feeling.

      1. Oh no, no, no! Perfect! You’ve nailed it as art when we interpret it in different ways. You’re a victim of your own genius. (Hahaha… for all you know I’ve interpreted it as “a mug of hot chocolate!!” :)- I haven’t, by the way). Its perfect.

      2. It’s true that my brain is fuzzed up at the moment. I wrenched my shoulder/back on Sunday and have been self-medicating with handfulls of painkillers ever since. I’ve numbed it into submission, I think so should start to come out of the haze soon 🙂

      3. I’m sorry to hear that. Get better soon. In the meantime, write more while you’re in thus haze. You might just come up with the best poem ever written! 😉

  4. “secrets dark” may be what we are unaware of which would have to be a lot if we are planning to survive. I don’t know what Yeats means by “dark” folk. I see them as only what we are unaware of.

    1. Thank you 🙂 It is a bit of that. I imagine we all have a touch of dark and light, and often what motivates the most splendid actions is less than admirable—egoism, vanity, arrogance maybe.

      1. For many it’s the end result that count. Beside it’s true of what you say, but the idea of being flawless will be utopian.. At least for us humans it will be..

      2. I’m put in mind of people like Lech Walesa who was hailed as a hero because of the cause he was fighting for. Once he got what he wanted and was elected president, people found that they didn’t much like what had motivated his ‘heroic’ struggle.

      3. For me Churchill will be such figure.. But when mattered he provided amenities and resources to Soviet Block, to defeat Hitler. It’s as you said the end result that counts. Same is the case for Walesa..

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