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The Lake Isle of Innisfree, the Poem

Maybe you’ve read  “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” the poem by William Butler Yeats that begins:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

William Butler Yeats may not be the grand exciting figure he was some decades ago, but his major poems  still retains their beauty and mystery. “Innisfree” is one of his earlier,  simpler verses. Marilyn Robertson is acquainted with”The Lake Isle of Innisfree” and has named her own poem “Innisfree.” Here it is:

When I can’t sleep, I often recite a poem I’ve memorized,
taking deep breaths between the lines, but not so much
that I ruin the meter. Last night it was Yeats.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree
But I soon realized it was a poor choice, because
the last ting I wanted to do was rise.

Then I began to wonder where Innisfree was, exactly,
and could you get there in a rowboat
with all the things you’d need for a long stay.

Gardening implements. String for the beans to climb.
The beehive, of course. A couple of warm sweaters—
who knows what the weather will be like?

I’m thinking it would be summer and, with any luck,
someone else will have built the cabin—
maybe Yeats himself—and left behind a basket

of wattles to use for kindling, plus a few poems
to read on the porch after supper as I watch
the linnets busily fluttering away the Irish light.

—Marilyn Robertson

More Notes


Tim Carmody, in his excellent piece, "How Haiti Became Poor", notes that President Trump's racist policies and vulgar language have sullied the word "shithole" which used to be one of the all-time great swear words. He's right. It's another terrible power this careless President wields.