Of night and light and the half light

Some people claim that Homer wrote every story that ever could be, or that it’s all in Plato. I find all the words I need in Yeats, who, of course, I have to thank for letting me borrow a line of his for the title.

Of night and light and the half light

The skittering of loose pebbles
beneath the tread of unsteady feet,
and the slope yaws, slides
into a twilit gloom of uncertain light.

Hanging by a thread,
so we clutch,
even a straw will do.

It slops, fear, like filthy bilge water,
oil-dark and dead, filling the stomach
with reasons to retch.

But then, when the foul tide retreats,
and hands, tongues, paws, tails
say welcome back,

and the sand shines silver-gold,
bright as meadows and blackbirds,
when the fear dissolves
in mists of after-dream,

and the sun pours and pours and pours,
spreading peace like butter,
then, there is pure happiness.

To a Lost Child

For the dverse prompt. This poem is my side of the conversation with Yeats in his poem To a Child Dancing upon the Shore.

I could have seen you pass on any street,
That skipping step that children keep for when
The school day’s done, there’s nowhere else to run
But wild and thoughtless home to play and tea.
I could have called you back with some excuse,
A word about your brother, mother, nan,
But you’d not wait, the wind was in your heels,
Drawn or driven, reckless, did you know?
You raced the pavement, skip-hopped cracks the while,
The minutes ticked, and knowing now, your smile
Was empty, frayed as anger in two fists¬—
He beat the laughter from you, beat it dead.
The children who run wild, wind in their heels,
Are too fleet and bright for this dark world.

What if


What if the only thing I had,
the only remnant of a fraying past, that I
with parsimonious fingers bind, was the
bright, unravelling weft the heavens
loosed; would I remember how embroidered
gold and silver were the cloths
we wrapped our precious dreams about?

What if the picture in my head, enwrought
volutes of lily tresses, and with
stars entwined, forgets your golden
face, the look your eyes had then and
how love brushed night shadows silver
in the moon’s cool light?

Would I still be me if you were no more
than downy scraps caught among the roses
the sad cold remnants of the nest the robins left?

There are never answers to be found
on this side of the veil,
and beyond, questions no longer matter.

A Month With Yeats: Day Thirty

This is the last day of this tremendous poetry marathon that I have so much enjoyed. I’m already looking back on it with nostalgia. To finish, I couldn’t resist another line from ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’.

“And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,” —W.B. Yeats


After the winter, peace


Veils of morning and evening fall about this place,

This pile of stones and plaster we call home for a space,

Where willows bow and poplars dance with wild green grace.

There will be peace in the hollows where rests the hare,

Hidden in slanting grass stalks from the midday glare,

And shade to fill the valley where the shy deer dare.

But first comes winter, fleet and wolf-jawed, to crack stones,

And iron is the earth where lie silent bones on bones,

And bare boles, moss moist and cold, are our only thrones.

A Month With Yeats: Day Twenty-Nine

Coming to the end of the month with a quote that opens up a lot of possibilities. This one is from ‘No Second Troy’.

‘Why, what could she have done, being what she is?

Was there another Troy for her to burn?’—W.B. Yeats


He denies his love herself


She was headstrong and proud, they said,

Too fiery for the peaceful life

Of house and children in her skirts,

The tender mother, attentive wife.

He thought he’d mould her to his will,

Because he had decided so,

In her grace and beauty saw a mate

And when with sorry smile she told him no,

Blamed her cold heart and ill-starred fate,

That drenched the fires in his heart.

He never looked into those eyes,

And saw a wild deer poised to dart,

A hawk take wing into the light,

Or brave alone the dark and starry night.

A Month With Yeats: Day Twenty-Eight

Another quote from the poem ‘He Mourns for the Change That Has Come Upon Him And His Beloved, And Longs For The End Of The World’


‘I would that the Boar without bristles had come from the West

And had rooted the sun and moon and stars out of the sky’ —W.B. Yeats


When the fires in the east meet the storms in the west


When the fires in the east meet the storms in the west,

When north and south join bloody hands across the water,

When there is no light to see by day, through veils of fog,

When the carcasses pile high amid the slaughter,

When black Morrígu caws and nothing stops her cry,

There is no rhyme, no valid reason why

I should not turn my eyes in fury to the sky

And shout, let the blood tide rise; let all things die.

A Month with Yeats: Day Twenty-Seven

Today’s quote, chosen to coincide with birthdays and celebrations, is the opening to Yeats’ lovely poem, “A Prayer for my Daughter’.


‘Once more the storm is howling, and half hid

Under this cradle-hood and coverlid

My child sleeps on.’ —W.B. Yeats


Hopes for a child


There is a path for you, oh child of mine,

That only you will ever find,

Though we have held your hand on your first steps.

And shown you bearings, strong, compassionate and kind.

There may be stars and moons along the way,

There will certainly be sorrows, broken dreams,

And heartaches with no cure but fading layers of time.

I have no cloak that shields, with brave advice hidden in the seams,

Being of the kind who wandered here and there,

And never found the door, was never bold

Enough to force it open, or the secret of success.

But my hand you will always have, to comfort and to hold,

For though you find your wings, you will never be too old.

A Month with Yeats: Day Twenty-Three

Today’s quote is from ‘He Wishes His Beloved Were Dead’.

‘…your hair was bound and wound

About the stars and moon and sun:’—W.B. Yeats


Growing Old


No matter how old we grow, how deep the furrows

Carved in the delicate lines of once-soft skin,

How thin the hair and threaded through with age,

Hoar-frosted strands and the dull ache of joints,

No matter how many miles between your fingers’ touch

And the whispered breath that lifts the hair above my ear,

You are here, bound to me with the strings of my heart,

With the gold and the bright, laughing green shoots of spring.

A Month with Yeats : Day Twenty-Two

Internet has flickered on so here is today’s quote from ‘He Hears the Cry of the Sedge’.


‘I wander by the edge
Of this desolate lake
Where wind cries in the sedge:’ —W.B. Yeats


By the shallow waters of the lake


There is more beauty in this empty land,

Than in the city full of garish light,

And the noise of lives lived with ferocious joy,

The eternal hum and drone of never night.

I wade the shallow waters of the lake,

Hear ancient voices sigh in wind-bent sedge,

Where birds whose hearts are older far than we,

Fear not to balance on the world’s dim edge,

Where blue and gold lights, dawn and evening blend,

Where sorrow fades and all things have an end.

A Month with Yeats: Day Twenty-One

The quote for today is from ‘The Ragged Wood’. I have used it as inspiration for the Secret Keeper’s weekly writing challenge, to include the words:



‘…by water among the trees
The delicate-stepping stag and his lady sigh’ —W.B. Yeats


He calls his love home from the hill


High on the hill, the white hind stands,

She pauses before she leaves the deep trees,

She watches the sky and she tastes the sound

Of the colours of leaves drifting in the breeze.

Down she bounds where the grass is lush,

In the meadow bright where the stream runs by,

But she stops before she leaps the bank,

For a song drifts down from the hill so high.

‘Come home, come home,’ the rough voice calls,

To the wind, the sky and the rushing stream,

And the hind in an instant remembers his face,

And the name that she thought was only a dream.

So poised for flight she turns her head,

His name, his face, the curse she sees,

The woman she was tries to find her voice,

Though the song in its falling fills her with unease.

Her heart full of sadness she leaps the bright stream,

For the song that she hears is in the wrong key,

It tells her, as into the forest she melts,

That from her enchantment she’ll never be free.