Monday, October 11, 2010

a perfect re-telling

the moon from my back stoop tonight was exactly as worn as the moon of my favorite Yeats' poem

Adam's Curse

We sat together at one summer's end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, "A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world."
                                              And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake
There's many a one shall find out all heartache
On finding that her voice is sweet and low
Replied, "To be born woman is to know --
Although they do not talk of it at school --
That we must labour to be beautiful."
I said, "It's certain there is no fine thing
Since Adam's fall but needs much labouring.
There have been lovers who thought love should be
So much compounded of high courtesy
That they would sigh and quote with learned looks
precedents out of beautiful old books;
Yet now it seems an idle trade enough."

We sat grown quiet at the name of love;
We saw the last embers of daylight die,
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time's waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.
I had a thought for no one's but your ears:
That you were beautiful, and that I strove
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we'd grown
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.


  1. Lovely--the photograph and the poem.


  2. Oh thank you for this Elizabeth! I've never read it before and it brought a searing pause to my morning.

  3. It makes me sad - the ending.

    "and yet we'd grown
    As weary-hearted as that hollow moon."

  4. Beautiful and sad.

  5. Lovely. Good to read the inspiration for your title.

  6. I saw that moon too. Thank you for giving me the verse now to go with it.

  7. dear one,
    in honor of my son's birthday...your beautiful daughter...
    with love and hope for a brighter future for all children....
    to support team sophalofa,
    please accept my donation.
    how i wish i could walk there with you all.


  8. Thanks for reminding us of these lovely words from W B Yeats, Elizabeth, and for pairing the poem with your beautiful picture. x0 N2

  9. That was a lovely for me to save in my box of special poems...tucked in my be read every so often.

  10. Thank you again for the gift of this poem. Every time I read it, I get a bit more of it. xoxo

  11. I'm so glad you posted this poem.



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