Monday, May 6, 2019

The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats, and sung by The Waterboys

I was listening to an old album by The Waterboys, and was so taken with the last song. It is The Stolen Child by Yeats put to music by one of the members, Mike Scott, and narrated by Tomás McKeown. It is so very beautiful.

I found it on youtube in a video illustrated with pictures of old Ireland. You may watch and listen here. Addendum: I just saw that you can't watch it on the blog, but must click the watch it on youtube button. Sorry for the extra step.



The faerys [sic] are luring a child to go away with them. They present their home as a beautiful place "where flapping herons wake the drowsy water rats." This is a place of dancing and joy "while the world is full of troubles and anxious in its sleep." And that last line of each verse is a killer - "for the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."  The last verse tells of the good the child will be giving up to avoid the inevitable sadness in real life.

Oh, Yeats! A wonderful poem, and I do love the musical version and narration.

The Stolen Child

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks so much - just beautiful! Two other Yeats poems have been set to music and sung by Judy Collins - Innisfree and Golden Apples of the Sun (the poem's name is The Song of Wandering Aengus. Both are amazing - you've probably heard them.
    Mary

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    1. I am really glad you liked it. I may have heard them decades ago, but don't remember. Will look them up. What did you think of the last verse talking about the mice!

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    2. Yes - the mice! All things the child will leave behind. Some tales about fairies aren't so beneficient to humans. Fairies were considered dangerous and dark. Have you read Susanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell?" Or seen the TV series of it? I loved both.

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    3. I've heard this about fairies - not to be trusted, mischievous but not in a funny way, and malevolent. I would like to look into them more. I haven't read the book or watched the series. I just found it on Netflix and added it to my queue. The book was just too daunting for me! Thank you for the recommendation.

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  2. This is very beautiful. And not a little sad.

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  3. Love your header; makes me smile

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