A month with Yeats: Day Six

Today’s quote is from The Cold Heaven, by W.B. Yeats and is inspired by watching the hawk that perches every day on the overhead electricity cable that runs over the field boundary, surveying his or her hunting ground.


‘Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven’

Photo ©Tim Sträter


The hawk on the wire looks down

Upon the world of creeping things,

Regards with lordly indifference the rest.

Above his head, the sweep of sky,

Fills with wind and billowed cloud.

Soon the rain of leaves will cease,

Fallen gold will crisp to silver in the night,

And on the snow, the red of berry-blood.

The hawk on the swaying wire

Peers, the daylight hours waning,

And in the frozen wastes of the world,

Spies the warm beating of a tiny heart.


November Yeats challenge: Day One

November is the month when those of us who write are encouraged (or goaded) to finish or start that manuscript, to take that brilliant idea and give it life. It’s a challenge I’ve accepted on previous years and have written, if not the full 50,000 words of the challenge, a goodly chunk.

This finishing off of great ideas though inevitably poses the question of what next. For writers, the answer is always, to get it published. That, dear reader, is easier to rattle off than to do, and there is nothing more depressing than having a beautiful story that nobody wants to read.

So, this year, instead of continuing my alternate history/parallel universe story—a lonely boy discovers how to get his nose out of his navel and let himself be rescued by an Iron Age girl with attitude, who also happens to be the girl in his class who is missing and feared murdered by her violent step-father—I’m going to write poetry instead.

I like my story and have enjoyed plotting it out, but I dread finishing it and having to put it on the pile with my other unsung masterpieces. There are no expectations with poetry. It’s a personal effort, written for personal reasons, and I certainly don’t feel compelled to see my  efforts in print.

For each day of this month of frenzied novel scribbling, I am going to post a quote, a handfull of words from a poem by Yeats, and let his magic inspire a poem. Limiting the prompt to just a line of poetry has been hard, as Yeats often spins a single image across half a poem, and I might have been a bit cack-handed with the cut-off point.

Anyone who cares to join me is very welcome. Just leave a link to your poem in the comments or do a pingback so I can read it. May all the saints and all the old gods inspire you 🙂

“they will ride the North when the ger-eagle flies,

With heavy whitening wings, and a heart fallen cold:” —W. B. Yeats


This is my first Yeats-inspired poem.

The dark half of the year


The dark half of the year’s upon us

Galloping with the sound of the wind

That pours from the north, cold as hunger.

The dark half of the year’s upon us

And the moon has horns of silver light

That mask the starry host from sight.

The dark half of the year comes swift

But draws on slow as a hag’s shambling

On the rocky cliff road.

In the darker part of the year I creep

Beneath the bare oak with the hare

And wait for the sharp bright sun of spring.





Had I the cloths of heaven

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to make the first line of your poem a line from a favourite poem. The springboard for this sonnet is taken from Yeats’ He wishes for the cloths of heaven. If you don’t know it by heart, here it is. One of the most beautiful poems ever written.


Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Would I spread them out beneath your feet,

Or keep them rolled, a feast for moths,

In the soft dark where dreamers meet?

My dreams of gold and silver light,

Tremble in my uncertain hand,

Lest you snuff them in a single night,

Unravel them, bright strand by strand.

What use a heap of crumpled dreams,

That never spread their wings to fly?

Though you walk roughshod on their seams,

Better that than let them die.

So take my hand, my willing heart,

Enwrought with dreams, though then we part.

3 Days 3 Quotes: Day 3

Last day of the challenge, and a quote from my favourite poet, WB Yeats. It was hard to choose a few lines, there is so much beautiful imagery in Yeats. The following lines are from one of his best-loved poems, The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

The painting is by Akseli Gallen-Kallela


I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds on the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Thanks to Emily for nominating me 🙂 I’m passing on the challenge to Merril Smith .

Rules are simple (though I realise I haven’t followed them to the letter) to post a favourite quote a day for three days, and each day to pass on the challenge to three other bloggers.