Wednesday, October 12, 2005


It would have been my mother’s birthday today. She died almost 3 years ago, and from time to time waves of recollection wash over me. Not grief, just memories of conversations and echoes of her voice.

She and I were at different periods bitter, painful enemies and good friends. In the last third of her life we were, generally, the latter. We had a hard-won complicity and comfort between us at the end that I have not found since. I do miss her very much, increasingly in fact as the years go by.

In her honour, here’s her favourite poem. She was Welsh, not Irish, but the Celt in her always responded to that yearning for the unattainable Yeats writes about. She told me that she heard the author himself read it on the radio in the 1930s or 40s. Happy Birthday, Mum.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

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 honeybee,
and live alone in the bee-loud glade.

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

Dropping from the veils of morning to where the cricket

There's 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.

W.B. Yeats


Blogger MB said...

A lovely and loving tribute to your mum, mary. It made me think very much of my own mother, whom I miss, too.

4:34 pm  
Blogger Michael Manning said...

Your post touched my heart and may I say I'm very sad for your loss. It's been 5 years this Christmas week for my Dad. A beautiful tribute!

9:13 pm  
Blogger zhoen said...

My mother would love this poem too, more particularly since she lives in a shabby house in a neglected part of Detroit.

We haven't spoken in almost two years. I miss my fantasy of her, but the reality leaves me shredded and angry. I hope we can find peace, eventually.

Your words give me some hope. Thank you.

10:27 pm  
Blogger Jean said...

That's beautiful. What a precious thing that you and your mother found a way to be together in the last part of her life. A precious pain of missing that you would not be without, I'd guess?

Zhoenw, my situation is like yours, but for much much longer, and we did not manage to find peace. I hope you do. It doesn't ever go away or become ok. Like divorce. Maybe worse - we were never tied to a partner by more than a metaphorical umbilical cord...

11:56 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Thank you all so much. My mother was a great internationalist and she would have been (is?) very happy that people from many many miles away have been thinking of her.

Jean: You're right I would not have been without the last few years of my mother's life.

Zhoenw: I feel for you. I have another family relationship that proved impossible to really repair before death. I hope you find peace, whatever the outcome with your mother.

5:25 pm  
Blogger Sonia said...

Lovely homage. Beautiful poem.

8:29 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Sonia, thank you.

6:42 pm  
Blogger Susan said...

Those intense moments of recollection. Not despairing, just that quick wave of her presence reasserting itself in my life. Mine died 6 yrs ago on the 27th. Sending my caring thoughts your way Mary, I'm glad you still have her with you.

7:23 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

You're right Susan, it isn't grief, just very intense flashes of awareness of the one who has died. And this doesn't fade, in my experience it gets stronger. Thinking of you as the 27th approaches, and thank you.

7:51 pm  
Anonymous susanne said...

This post touched me very much. I can only imagine your loss as I live a country and a sea apart from my little Irish mum who is almost 80 years old now... but it's only in the last three years that we have become close. Now I would call her my best friend... ten or twenty years ago I would have been embarassed to say that! Thank you for the poem... it is one of her favourites, and mine.

8:08 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Susanne. Thank you so much.

9:37 pm  
Anonymous beth said...

Late... but happy to read this favorite poem again and think of your mum. My beloved great-aunt Inez was born on October 12. I got my love of poetry (and many other things) from her - and she loved this poem. We were both remembering grand ladies on this day, it seems. I wish reconciliation for everyone who has those problematic relationships - but I also know it isn't always possible unless both people want it. One more reason to treasure the relationships we have that DO work.

1:46 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Beth, thank you for writing. What a gift memories such as yours of your great-aunt Inez are. 12th October - a special day indeed.

8:27 am  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

You can learn so much about a person from the poem they choose as a favorite. Your mother must have been a
fascinating character.

A lovely tribute--made richer by its honesty.

3:28 pm  

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