“The Hosting of the Sidhe”

Paddy’s Day has mostly been for me what it is for everybody: a day to drink with their friends. But I study Irish supernatural belief–it’s the topic of my dissertation–and I do feel my heart stir a bit when I think of the old stories and my good friends in Dublin, Tipperary, and Dingle.

In honor of them, and of the old stories, here’s one of my favorite poems by Yeats. Yeats was a fervent believer in the supernatural, and that’s the aspect of his career I’m most interested in (but I’m a dork, so take that as you will).

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all. Raise a pint for me (I’m still in Buenos Aires, so I’ll probably be drinking Malbec tonight).

The Hosting of the Sidhe  [1]

THE HOST is riding from Knocknarea 
And over the grave of Clooth-na-bare;
Caolte tossing his burning hair
And Niamh calling Away, come away:
Empty your heart of its mortal dream.
The winds awaken, the leaves whirl round,
Our cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound,
Our breasts are heaving, our eyes are a-gleam,
Our arms are waving, our lips are apart;
And if any gaze on our rushing band, 
We come between him and the deed of his hand,
We come between him and the hope of his heart.
The host is rushing ’twixt night and day,
And where is there hope or deed as fair?
Caolte tossing his burning hair, 
And Niamh calling Away, come away.

[1] From Yeats, WB. The Wind Among the Reeds, 1899. http://www.bartleby.com/146/1.html.

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