This is one of the first poems I ever possessed, or was possessed by, copying it out longhand from some school anthology into my private poetry notebook. I would have been thirteen. Now, over sixty years on, I find its magic not much diminished, just tinged with a wistfulness for that first unrepeatable awakening to poetry, that is bound up for me with the memory of long ago sunsets and running barefoot on summer grass in the wild exuberance of youth.
The Song Of Wandering Aengus
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lads and hilly lands.
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
Great poem, especially when sung.
Yes, I usually have reservations about poems set to music, but this one has a folky quality that lends itself well. I like Karan Casey’s version on her album ‘Songlines’.
Like many another before me, I thought I had ‘discovered’ Yeats all by myself !