"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy."
William Butler Yeats
Through not-surprising inattention, I missed that yesterday was Yeats' birthday. My thanks to Susan T. Landry for the reminder and the poem she shared. In another life, century and state-of-mind, I was a student in Modern Poetry 101. It was there that I met Yeats and there that I was taught the only way to appreciate poetry was to know precisely what the poet meant in every word, phrase, pause, line break and nuance. It should have been called Deconstruction 101 and it nearly ruined poetry for me and me for it. I suspect the baffling process of snipping, with finely-pointed embroidery scissors, all the stitches out of art quilts made of words contributed to a once long-held belief that my brain was not quite equal to the task of participating.
Then, in a new century and with luck the leprechauns would envy, my heart was yanked back to Yeats and others previously unknown. Catapulted into the midst of an ongoing banquet hosted with patience and generosity by poets around the world, I learned that I could appreciate Yeats in my unscholarly fashion and not be wrong. I met a friend, a mentor who invited me to love the words I loved for how they spoke to, how they moved me, as I remained often clueless about the intent or the back story.
Being a day behind the celebrating of Mr. Yeats is a forgivable omission. Surely there are poets born on June 14. We may not know their names; we don't need to. We can thank them in their anonymity for all the ways they make our lives richer, for the fact they may overlook our possibly uninformed personal and emotional responses to their work. Happy Birthday, poets.
“The poet's job is to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name, to tell the truth in such a beautiful way, that people cannot live without it.”― Jane Kenyon