For St Patrick's Day today, an example of Yeats' exquisite lyricism which I think showcases two marked characteristics of the Irish character: a propensity for indulging in too much drink and wallowing in too much romantic melancholy.
Yeats himself was more guilty of the second behaviour than the first. He didn't have much luck in love (his lifelong unrequited love for Maud Gonne case in point) although he did manage to write beautiful meditations on the subject. His poem here 'Drinking Song' is a love poem masquerading under the title of a supposed merry-making pub piece. It is as beautiful as it is brief, the economy of language weaving a strange enchantment over the reader. It is a poem that demands multiple readings, that last line so simply and perfectly heartbreaking.
Whatever about the luck of the Irish, today I'd like to make a toast to the lyricism of the Irish. A much more practical blessing than luck if you ask me, one that can be used to generate that elusive quality.
A Drinking Song - William Butler Yeats
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.