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Poet's Choice

By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, March 13, 2005; Page BW12

The dream-power of actual places has been one of the great themes of poetry: A specific landscape, exotic or dreamy, becomes a way to express some feeling -- peace or excitement or anxiety -- that might be inexpressible without the scene.

One of the best known of such poems is William Butler Yeats's "The Lake Isle of Innisfree," a poem beloved for its richly compressed romantic feeling and mocked for that same feeling, and in either case indelible:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart's core.


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