The Collected Poetry of William Butler YeatsI confess it’s been hard for me to escape from the world lately, whether via reading, my own writing, work, or just the mundanity of everyday life (hard, for instance, to read social media from people in my town upset about lacking power for two days after a recent windstorm, given events elsewhere). So when it came time to come up with another St. Patrick’s Day post and prompt, the usual lightheartedness (PubsShamrocks! Snakes!) of prior posts felt a little off-tune.

One of my earlier posts noted how I often think of one of my favorite poets around this time — William Butler Yeats — and went on to springboard off of  “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.”

But peace has not been “dropping slow” of late, and so instead I find my mind turning to another of his works, “Easter 1916.” In there he writes of how his viewpoints toward those involved in the Easter Uprising had been transformed, how, for instance, someone he’d thought a “vainglorious lout” had now been “changed in his turn” thanks to his sacrifice. And I think of a man who was a comedian, who performed on Dancing with the Stars, who once dropped his trousers for a laugh, and how that same man is standing now in his office, in a shelter, on the streets, exhorting his people to resist the dark tide that seeks to overwhelm them even as the bombs fall around him, even as assassination squads come for him, one after the other. And I think how he has been “transformed utterly” and how, in him and in his people, “A terrible beauty is born.”

So rather than ask about some relative trivialities (relative only), or ask how you “escape” (though I think the idea of fantasy/sci-fi as “escapist” has always been reductionist), I’ll ask you instead where you turn for solace or inspiration when the “world is too much with us” and we’re surrounded by “confused alarms of struggle and flight.”  For me, as you might have guessed, it’s often poetry — there’s something in its cadences and sounds, its concise profundity and shared commiseration, the connection to the natural world, and the ease with which I can dip in and out, that lends itself to consolation. So I’m more often nowadays pulling down from the shelf my Yeats, my Olds, my Oliver and Gluck, as well as downloading more new collections.

And what about you? What forms, what titles, what scenes give you some hope for better days as we celebrate a holiday so near the turn from winter to spring?

One commenter wins a book from our stacks (U.S.A addresses), or a $5 Amazon gift card which perhaps you’ll put toward a book of poetry such as the one linked in the image above.


  • Bill Capossere

    BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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