(Silent) Poetry Reading

The Lover Pleads With His Friend For Old Friends

THOUGH you are in your shining days,
Voices among the crowd
And new friends busy with your praise,
Be not unkind or proud,
But think about old friends the most:
Time’s bitter flood will rise,
Your beauty perish and be lost
For all eyes but these eyes.

William Butler Yeats


This is a favorite poem of mine, mostly because I saw it every day as I was growing up. It was always hanging in our house – a woodblock print from the Yeats’ Cuala Press that my father had ordered from a bookseller in England in the early 1950’s. Its mate, with the same simple hand-painted illumination, and framed in the same sort of dark oak frame, is a Yeats quotation:

“We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even a fiercer life because of our quiet.”

These Arts and Crafts style prints usually hung on the stairs, or in a hallway, but always where we passed many times each day. How many hundreds of times did I chant the lines of the poem, or ponder the quotation, as I went up and down the stairs or through the house?

I think my four siblings shared my fondness for these words, or at least the same deep familiarity with them. They wove in and around all our childhoods, and traveled with us from house to house (there were quite a few moves). I’m sure that to this day my brothers and sisters could, with a little prompting, breathe the words again, as I can. It’s one of the ways we love and honor our dad, and remember our childhoods.


Many thanks to Reya and Deborah.

Celebrate the day!

8 thoughts on “(Silent) Poetry Reading

  1. Just beautiful. I don’t know why I don’t read more poetry, because I am actually thrilled to discover how much I like some of it, but then I go on to other things. I am inspired to pick up some poetry books and browse through them this weekend.It’s wonderful how tied up words and memories become. Perhaps I should hang up words in my home for my girls. I know a teenager who has a chalkboard in her home, and she puts up a quote of the week that she or some member of the family finds. My family is not that literate, though, why not? Even the little one has favorite poems and books, and should be able to look at those words as well. You’ve given me something to think about! As usual.


  2. You made me search for my favorite poem – that was coincidentally hanging up in my house growing up also – but I couldn’t remember the whole thing so I have searched for 2 days to find it online And in that search I found another one that I had alwasy loved by the same person. 😀


  3. I love Yeats but hadn’t come across that poem before. Thanks for sharing it and the memory that goes with it. My favourite Yeats poem at the moment is Two Trees – my favourites have changed over time. I read the first stanza of Two Trees to my husband at our wedding, and also used it as a dedication to him in my fourth book.


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