The Land of Saints and Scholars

By: Mercedes Becker

Ireland is often referred to lovingly as “the land of saints and scholars,” a name I’ve come to learn fits the country very well. Ireland has a long history of religious and scholarly influences and after traveling there I’d say these themes remain still. Although there are many religious figures I could and probably should talk about, for this post I’d like to focus on one of my favorite Irish scholars, national poet William Butler Yeats.

I listened to a recording of Yeats reading one of his poems in the Irish National Library in Dublin and was so inspired I decided to look up more of his work. I found the poem titled, “The Heart of the Woman,” a sweet, thoughtful poem written from the perspective of a young woman and wrote a responding poem mimicking Yeats’ style from the perspective of the man. Here are the two poems:

The Heart of the Woman
W.B. Yeats

O what to me the little room
That was brimmed up with prayer and rest;
He bade me out into the gloom,
And my breast lies upon his breast.

O what to me my mother’s care
The house where I was safe and warm;
The shadowy blossom of my hair
Will hide us from the bitter storm.

O hiding hair and dewy eyes,
I am no more with life and death,
My heart upon his warm heart lies,
My breath is mixed into his breath.

The Heart of the Man
Mercedes Becker

O what to me the midnight chimes
Twisting the knob to her bedroom door;
Hands clasped in mine, from bed she climbs,
Bedclothes dragged to heaps upon the floor.

O what to me her father’s estate
For now she’s safe within my care;
A Dublin drizzle deems us immaculate,
I bury my face within her hair.

O buried faces and blushing cheeks,
I am young as Celtic gold,
If only this night were days and weeks,
Our breath, two mists, mixing in the cold.

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