November Yeats – 20

This quote is from ‘The Old Age of Queen Maeve’.

‘out of the dark air over her head there came
A murmur of soft words and meeting lips.’—W.B. Yeats

In this shuffling, fumbling old age,
Of fading sight, and hollowed breasts,
And swollen knuckles, a seat
By the fireside is poor compensation
For the wild ride into battle,
The heat of a horse between her thighs
And a spear in her hand.

If she was kissed once,
It was not enough, and if
They sang of her, and her great deeds,
She called for more,
And now those songs echo
Though the singers are gone.

She did not plan to end her days
Like this – hands shaking, dreaming
Of the past. She planned to stay
Forever young, fierce warrior,
Striding through life, scowling
At weakness. Instead she nods
By the fireside, dreaming
Of days long gone – whispers
Of men she led to death,
Of old glories. This new enemy
Is her own body,
Not to be defeated,
And time has worn away
The gold, tarnished
Her breastplate, blunted the spear,
And the past is far away.


For Jane. Ten more days left after this. Bring it on.

9 thoughts on “November Yeats – 20

  1. Wonderful poem, Sarah. You capture the whole process of her aged body.
    I’m also laughing at the cheese comments.
    When I was researching for my first book, well dissertation, I came across an account in the Pennsylvania Gazette about a man who killed his wife by throwing a loaf of bread at her. This was in the 1730s.


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