I will arise and go now . . .

Tree Swallow, Buttercup Farm

Tree Swallow, Buttercup Farm

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.

—W. B. Yeats, from The Lake Isle of Innisfree

It’s May, and the weather has turned springlike, though in fits and starts. Local gardens available to the public have begun to open, among them Innisfree. It’s time, then, to arise and take a break from blogging and, to an extent, the internet for a while.

Yeats’s poem, after which the garden is named, is, of course, an act of the imagination by a young poet dreaming about a real Lake Isle of Innisfree, but nonetheless more a place of the imagination than of fact. Innisfree Garden, too, is, in some sense, not a real place, but an act of the imagination, realized by people wealthy enough to do so and, so far at least, to leave enough behind to help fund the garden’s continued existence.

Before I arise and go, I want to leave with you these things:

Innisfree Garden

Innisfree Garden

>>A Poem Talk discussion of Yeats’s poem, with Taije Silverman, ModPo TA Max McKenna, and John Timpane joining Al Filreis, along with links to three recordings of Yeats reading the poem. Yeats provides an introduction to the poem here, in which, among other things, he points to a shop window advertisement as what I would call his own version of Proust’s madeleine:

I am going to begin with a poem of mine called ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ because if you know anything about me you will expect me to begin with it. It is the only poem of mine which is very widely known. When I was a young lad in the town of Sligo I read Thoreau’s essays and wanted to live in a hut on an island in Lough Gill called Innisfree, which means ‘Heather Island.’ I wrote the poem in London when I was about twenty-three. One day in The Strand I hear a little tinkle of water and saw in a shop window a little jet of water balancing on the top. It was an advertisement, I think, for cooling drinks. But it set me thinking of Sligo and lake water. I think there is only only obscurity in the poem. I speak of noon as a ’purple glow.’ I must have meant by that the reflection of heather in the water. [transcription provided by Jacket2 here]



>>Photographs ranging from a family of foxes and the dogwood tree in bloom in our front yard to scenes from local walking places, including Buttercup Farm and, of course, Innisfree Garden.

>>As always, a listening list.

Innisfree Garden

Innisfree Garden

I hope you’ll enjoy what you find here while I’m offline. I will respond to any comments that might be left here (though my response may be delayed), and I’ll look forward to coming back and visiting with you in a while.

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Listening Lists

Here are four Spotify playlists of music I’ve been exploring recently:

May Selections 1 (British Composers Benjamin Britten, Oliver Knussen, and James MacMillan)

May Selections 2 (Carl Nielson (Danish), Glière (Ukrainian), Josef Suk (Czeck))

May Selections 3 (Rued Langgaard (Danish), Giya Kancheli (Georgian), Rolf Martinsson (Swedish), Uuno Klami (Finnish))

May Selections 4 (Sofia Gubaidulina (Russian), Magnus Lindberg (Finnish), Kaija Saariaho (Finnish), Gérard Grisey (French))

A YouTube selection is below:

Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (part 1 of 2)

Glière’s Ilya Muromets: Symphony No. 3, Op. 42

Langgaard’s Music of the Spheres

Gubaidulina’s Viola Concerto (part 1)


Credits: All photographs are mine, as always unless otherwise noted on the blog. The source for each quotation may be found at the link noted in the text.

7 thoughts on “I will arise and go now . . .

  1. friko

    Au revoir, Auf Wiedersehen, See You Soon, dear Susan.

    Enjoy your time off, away from corners lit only by a flickering screen and make for the hills bathed in sunshine. I hope you will find your own lake of Innisfree or, at the very least, lose yourself in the one on your doorstep.

    Let summer begin.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Friko: And indeed the summer did begin, with a bit of a wallop, a heat wave just in time for the trip to Washington, D.C., which is built on a swamp. Still, there were such great indoor activities, it didn’t matter much, except when I made an ill-advised trek to the Lincoln Memorial. The sight I most appreciated upon arrival there was the appearance of taxi back to the hotel!

  2. David N

    Well, you have outdoogwooded my botanic-gardens specimen with the real, indigenous thing. I long to go to your Innisfree. Thank you for the turtles, the foxes, the swan in strange contortions. Do the frogs croak on the lake as they do in Goettingen?

    ‘Innisfree Garden, too, is, in some sense, not a real place, but an act of the imagination, realized by people wealthy enough to do so and, so far at least, to leave enough behind to help fund the garden’s continued existence.’ Beautifully put – the same must be said of Glyndebourne too, and of all the great gardens. I wonder if this eloquence stems from our comparing notes on The Leopard, and Lampedusa’s love of beautiful old things born of privilege (again, I cite Henry James and his poor, bewildered, bedazzled hero Hyacinth in The Princess Casmassima).

    Have a wonderful screen-free, nature-drenched break.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      David N: The dogwood is the one flowering beauty in our yard–thank goodness it survived that October snowstorm relatively unscathed (though not altogether). I am sure the frogs do croak at Innisfree, too, though, come to think of it, I haven’t heard them. (I often hear them at Buttercup, another favorite place to walk.) Yes, I suspect that my thoughts about Innisfree here were affected by reading Lampedusa’s magnificent book. (I now have “The Last Leopard” out of the library, added to my infinite stacks of books. I look forward to that.)

  3. Mark Kerstetter

    I’m convinced going ‘screen-free’ for periods is necessary for the health, but at the same time I selfishly hope it won’t be for long. It’ll give me a chance to catch up on some of your playlists. Thanks for the lovely images and great music!

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      I’m absolutely with you on “screen-free” periods. I do find it harder and harder to achieve, but it’s always worth it, slowing down the distraction quotient a bit and doing things like reading yer actual books (not that I’ve got very far, mind you). I hope you’ve enjoyed the playlists (or at least some of them). They’re a bit of a curious mix, a lot of pieces on them new to me that I’d earmarked for a listen, some from Q2 Radio, some from the Spring for Music concert programs in New York City–none of which I was able to attend, sadly. It was fun, and quite challenging, to put them together. I think the stand-out for me among the newer-to-me composers at the moment is Gubaidulina. I’d be curious to know what you think of Langgaard’s Music of the Spheres. (It has an interesting back story, written early in the 20th Century, then not played for 50 years.)

      1. Mark Kerstetter

        Both the pieces you’ve posted here by Gubaidulina and Langgaard caught my attention the first time I visited and I was happy to listen again. ‘Music of the Spheres’ in particular is gorgeous – love it when the organ kicks in.

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