Friday, June 13, 2008

At the Races

Today is W.B. Yeats birthday. Had he been possessed of super human longevity, in addition to his super human dedication to wonderfully expressive formal poetry, he would now be 143 years old.

On top of being one of the most consistently excellent poets of the last 200 years, Yeats was also an avid horse racing fan, which is something I'm happy to share, and maybe for some of the same reasons. At Emerald Downs last week, a punter taking in the Spring air could briefly believe in a time "before the merchant and the clerk." The stadium was full of young parents and their infant children, watching together as longshot after longshot came in to make a mockery of every handicappers' most logical picks. Including my own. Regardless of losing every bet I made, I totally enjoyed myself. The air was clean, the beer was cheap, and the flesh was truly wild. Yeats knew all about it.

At Galway Races

There where the course is,
Delight makes all of the one mind,
The riders upon the galloping horses,
The crowd that closes in behind:
We, too, had good attendance once,
Hearers and hearteners of the work;
Aye, horsemen for companions,
Before the merchant and the clerk
Breathed on the world with timid breath.
Sing on: somewhere at some new moon,
We’ll learn that sleeping is not death,
Hearing the whole earth change its tune,
Its flesh being wild, and it again
Crying aloud as the racecourse is,
And we find hearteners among men
That ride upon horses.

(Mad props to Farrell the Fisher for snagging the photo above.)

1 comment:

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