At Yeats’s Grave


We went to Sligo over narrow roads
eroded at the edges by rain
We wanted to see the country
that had startled Yeats into song:
the waters of Lough Gill and Glencar Lake

We wanted to see the grave
of Ireland’s greatest poet—how it waits
by his grandfather’s church at Drumcliffe
with its taut verse and its gray stillness
how Ben Bulben’s battered face
floats beyond it in the verdant sea
of a late May morning

We wanted to walk where Yeats
had stitched his lines   and unstitched them
where he had known defeat in each ripped stanza
and victory in the rise and fall of each imperfect
syllable      We would walk with him
where history had beaten down
like sudden gusts of rain

We would walk where the poet had walked
and listen for the wingbeats of Irish poetry
By then, the Sligo sun might be shining
and peace might sound as sweet
as church bells on Sunday morning.


© Charles Fishman