Tuesday

Mar. 17, 2009

Adam's Curse

by William Butler Yeats

We sat together at one summer's end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, 'A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought,

Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world.'

                    And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake
There's many a one shall find out all heartache
On finding that her voice is sweet and low
Replied, 'To be born woman is to know—
Although they do not talk of it at school—
That we must labour to be beautiful.'

I said, 'It's certain there is no fine thing
Since Adam's fall but needs much labouring.
There have been lovers who thought love should be
So much compounded of high courtesy
That they would sigh and quote with learned looks
Precedents out of beautiful old books;
Yet now it seems an idle trade enough.'

We sat grown quiet at the name of love;
We saw the last embers of daylight die,
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time's waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.

I had a thought for no one's but your ears:
That you were beautiful, and that I strove
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we'd grown
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.

"Adam's Curse" by William Butler Yeats. Public domain. (buy now)

It's St. Patrick's Day, the annual feast day celebrating a patron saint of Ireland. In New York City, which hosts the largest parade in the world, 2 million people will line the streets as 150,000 marchers parade up Fifth Avenue. The march will be led by the U.S. 69th Infantry Regiment, as it always has been, and the marchers will include firefighters, police officers, emigrant societies, New York politicians, high school bands, and community service organizations. The first St. Patrick's Day parade in New York was on March 17, 1762. Boston has been celebrating St. Patrick's Day since 1737. And since 1961, Chicago has been dyeing its river green for the holiday.

The city of Dublin is a relative newcomer to the huge parade festivities, but the celebration there has been taking off in recent years. Dublin's first St. Patrick's Day Festival was in 1996, and the next year it lasted three days, then four days. Now it's a weeklong event that includes a symposium with lectures on Ireland's economic success, issues of Irish identity, and the future of the Irish state. About 500,000 people turn out to witness the Dublin parade.

It's the birthday of novelist and children's author Penelope Lively, (books by this author) born in Cairo (1933). She's the author of many books, including The Road to Lichfield (1977), Treasures of Time (1979) and According to Mark (1984). Her novel Moon Tiger (1987) won the Booker Prize.

It's the birthday of Frank B. Gilbreth, born in Plainfield, New Jersey (1911). He's best known for Cheaper by the Dozen (1949), a book about his family that he co-wrote with his sister.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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