The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Saturday and Folklife Fun


The Circus Animals’ Desertion
By William Butler Yeats

I

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last being but a broken man
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.

II

What can I but enumerate old themes,
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, starved for the bosom of his fairy bride.

And then a counter-truth filled out its play,
`The Countess Cathleen' was the name I gave it,
She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away
But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.
I thought my dear must her own soul destroy
So did fanaticism and hate enslave it,
And this brought forth a dream and soon enough
This dream itself had all my thought and love.

And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the bread
Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;
Heart mysteries there, and yet when all is said
It was the dream itself enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love
And not those things that they were emblems of.

III

Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

--------

I spent much of Friday with Alice and Avery, who had an early appointment in Bethesda, then came to get me so we could get Starbucks, sneakers for Avery at the Nike Factory Store, bug bands at REI, various craft things at AC Moore, and free Baskin Robbins mint polar pizza samples. Then we came back to my house and watched Pokemon: The First Movie while eating bagels plus Pokemon cookies that Alice made.

We had dinner with my parents and cake to kick off Adam's birthday week, then Adam went out with friends and Paul and I came home to watch some Versailles and be climbed upon by cats. It was a good evening to see bunnies and toads! Here are some more photos from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival last weekend -- trapeze lessons, clown school, a caravan, model & model-maker and more:

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