Other Worlds

~ W.B. Yeats

Old Moss Woman’s Secret Garden

Once, many years ago, in a park, I left this world for another. I don’t know how I got to the park, why I was there. It may have been part of some event—a birthday, a picnic—something. I walked off by myself, following the chain-link fence that separated the park from the river flowing by on the other side. Perhaps I was looking for a break in the fence so that I could sit next to the water, dangle my feet in the current. I didn’t find a break in the fence, but I noted a duck nest and a mama duck, the dull mallard color denoting the female, blending with the undergrowth next to the fence. It was stepping down, bending past the nest, into it that left the waving air of ether that pushed me into itself. I don’t know how long I was there, inside that funnel of other, or what it meant. I just knew that I was there. I had a sense that I was invisible to the people standing outside, though I didn’t know for certain. I could not see out. I was just there. And then I walked out, the other end away from the duck nest. I tried to go back, to find the nest again, but I could not. I went back to the picnic, joined some others—strangers I knew. And then the day passed like any other, like thousands of other days in a park where we would eat sandwiches and laugh in the sunlight, spend those infinite high school days of summer.

Some weeks later, much later, I tried to find the park again. That was strange too, as I don’t recall ever being there before or since. I don’t know how I found it, but I did. I took the walk along the fence, watching the undergrowth as I went, willing the nest to reappear. But it did not. No matter how much I looked or how far I walked, I could find nothing. No nest, no doorway, no path. Nothing. Perhaps I had taken some flight of fancy, launched some capsule of time which only landed in memory. And then, on that day, it returned to the nothingness of disbelief.

And just how it came to be, I have forgot.

When The Dead And The Irish Speak

William Butler Yeats


Yeats—Irish Times

In the “Irish Times” on Saturday, Fintan O’Toole declared there is a Yeats Test that can be applied to determine the state of the world. It’s simple: the more quotable Yeats seems to commentators and politicians, the worse things are.

After the election of Donald Trump, there was a massive surge in online searches for Yeats’s magnificently doom-laden The Second Coming. From data collected by Frank McNally, the poem was more quoted in newspapers the first seven months of 2016 than in any other year of the past three decades.

That’s saying a lot.

But more to the point, it hasn’t stopped. On a Twitter account called Widening Gyre, lines from the poem are sent out into cyberspace without further comment.

“The centre cannot hold” was tweeted or retweeted 499 times on June 24th, 2016, the morning after the Brexit vote. It has continued to appear 38 times a day. It also appeared 249 times in newspapers in the first seven months of 2016. Best of all, Yeats’s lines can be claimed by right, left and centre. And they are.

“Things Fall Apart” And more from The Second Coming

“mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”; “The ceremony of innocence is drowned”; and “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity”

Black, White, Left or Right, Yeats has become a man for all seasons. And poetry “is loosed upon the land.”


Yeats—Irish Times