“And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.”
From “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by W.B.Yeats
This recording of Yeats reciting “Innisfree” may be old, scratched and barely discernable but it is absolutely wonderful. No poem epitomises the Slow Life better than this.
It was inspired, as Yeats describes in his introduction to this recording, by Thoreau’s “Walden”. He wrote the poem as a young man, before the publication of his first book of poetry, and it was to become his best loved. But not by Yeats himself who grew tired of it and he was seen to visibly wince when asked to recite it.
He made this recording when he was 67, for the BBC. There is no sign of any tiredness here. If the poem were to be recited by an actor today on a programme such as “With Great pleasure” it would be read as a piece of prose in a conversational style. But not by Yeats, who captures the beauty of the poem by emphasising its rhyme and its rhythm.