The Stolen Child

I’m waiting on news about my ankle after two tests. In the meantime, I have been so busy at work, with term-end grades and decisions about students’ placements next year, that I haven’t taken proper lunches nor have I had any time outside except on the weekends or the occasional patio dinner to relax my mind. Two weekends ago I did garden work and then read on my hammock for hours. I am not a math person, but it’s all I do this time of year, and it’s making me feel sequestered in a tiny space–my mind in spreadsheets and formulas, my occasional foray elsewhere into social media with more screen-limiting boxes and cages. I long for that trail, and at the same time I realize it is bear season again–maybe this year I will have another scary encounter? Without being able to run, hike, write, or take many breaks during the day, I also know that summer is tick-tocking its way in and we’ve had such great, warm weather I am ready for it. I want to go sit in the ocean with a water bottle full of red wine. I want to hike the leafy trails with my husband. Yet, for now, I feel this time is being stolen.

I always go to sleep at night, after the cluttered days, thinking of Ireland. I remember the words of William Butler Yeats, in “The Stolen Child”:

WHERE dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you
can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you
can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,.
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.

Come away, O human child!
To to waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For to world’s more full of weeping than you
can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.

For be comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
from a world more full of weeping than you
can understand.

I recall faery woods–remember running last summer in the aforementioned Sleuth Wood (which is called Slish Wood in reality)–and the waters and the wild. I imagine ruins that stay in their place forever, horses in grassy meadows, trail-side cows, and soft breezes. I remember the friendly pubs, the miles of green lands painting the pastoral countryside, the wind-dancing buttercups, and the hundreds of thousands of seabirds nesting in rocky cliffs. These things, though they soothe the senses, were memorialized by difficult runs and long hikes. And I sometimes think maybe that is where we should retire. It is away from the western world and the polluted politics of the USA. It is not cumbersome. It is freeing, which is what Yeats’ poem is all about. It would be going away to the waters and the wild, which is something diminishing from this world. If only Yeats could have seen ahead into the future; would he be so disturbed? And Ireland has no bears, not since the megafaunal extinctions–I dream of running freely without fear of being clobbered by a big animal whose space I’ve invaded.

Still, dreams are dreams, and the reality of this time of year is boring and caged. But these cages will open soon and I’ll fly out. Our trip to see family is just in one month, and we have another camp trip with friends planned for Birkenhead, up in grizzly country, in August. I am just waiting on word from my doctor about this stupid foot–it is still swollen somewhat. If anything, I hope to get over to Buntzen Lake next time we have a hot weekend and dip into the cool waters.

Oh, that did get me to thinking, if my foot/leg don’t start healing soon, I may look into joining a rowing club. I have canoed or rafted since a young teen, and really enjoy it, and it also seems to be a good way to work out–with less a chance to run into bears. I just really really like to run, but the impact of it doesn’t seem to agree with my left foot, leg, or ankle occasionally.

The featured image is one of a “Paddle for Wild Salmon” I took part of in 2010. It was a five-day journey down the Fraser River to raise awareness of the importance of wild salmon. I was working then too, so only got to take part during one of the days for about five hours. It was traditional to slow down the canoe and raise paddles as respect and a request to have permission to enter First Nations lands when we stopped. In this photo, we were entering Tsleil-Waututh Nation sacred grounds, and they had prepared for us a great feast in their big lodge. It was the best salmon and bannock bread I have ever had. I am the girl in the very back row (our captain was behind us in the stern).



Leave a Comment