This evenings Nationwide they had a special edition on Yeats country in County Sligo. During the show they recounted one of the beautiful poems by WB Yeats, The Stolen Child. About twenty years ago, The Waterboys recorded a song using the lyrics of the poem, but what I did not know was the meaning behind the poem.

In old Ireland if you were unfortunate to have a child die in the family, there was a belief that the child was taken by fairies, this inspired yeats to write the poem


WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

 

A beautiful poem and one which I now only understand after 20 years. Why am I pointing this out on our website, well WB Yeats was a senator in the Irish Parliament and he was chosen as the Chairman of the first Irish coin committee, the designs which are on the old Irish coins, such as the hare (rabbit), Irish wolfhound, harp, salmon were all chosen by WB Yeats. We have taken these coins which are no longer in circulation and make them into cufflinks, and so in a small way the legacy of WB yeats lives on by people wearing the coins each day.

 

 

You can look at the cufflinks here