Two Voices


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 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.

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.

– William Butler Yeats

* * *

Take me to a place of peace and quiet,
where there is no anger or hatred.
Away from the dark force of evil,
away from the influence of satan contaminating like influenza.

I wait for Your Voice to tell me, arise and go now–
Only then will I arise and go now, to Innisfree, or to elsewhere, where you deploy me.
There I shall sing of your deliverance of me
for all my living days.

* * *

Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

– Here I Am Lord by Daniel O’Donnell

* * *

I used to daydream about the place of rest so impatiently. I wanted a place to hide, like, right away. Living alone in a cabin, away from the reaches of people- and especially the reaches of my own family at one point-, just away from it all. I wanted my own version of the Isle of Innisfree. Maybe that’s why I move to Big Island years back. Then I grew up a little, very, very little, and I thought, “I will arise and go, but not when I WILL, but when You WILL. For now, I will wait for Your Voice.” How I thought I was being a very good servant of God by waiting and enduring.

Sometimes, my yearning for the Lord’s final deliverance of me from evil is so strong, I could sound so pathetic(my pathetic voice is fearlessly displayed between W.B. Yeats and Daniel O’Donnell). With the most minor things, I complain, whine, and weep. Self-pity delays the growth of my soul. Big time.

I used to think Yeats’s poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” was so beautiful. I get the poet’s longing for peace and tranquility. That longing is the trademark of all my writings.

Sometimes I told myself very adventurous love-stories with myself for hero, and at other times I planned out a life of lonely austerity, and at other times mixed the ideals and planned a life of lonely austerity mitigated by periodical lapses. I had still the ambition, formed in Sligo in my teens, of living in imitation of Thoreau on Innisfree, a little island in Lough Gill, and when walking through Fleet Street very homesick I heard a little tinkle of water and saw a fountain in a shop-window which balanced a little ball upon its jet, and began to remember lake water. From the sudden remembrance came my poem “Innisfree,” my first lyric with anything in its rhythm of my own music.

– On origin of The Lake Isle of Innisfree, Autobiography of William Butler Yeats by W.B. Yeats

One can easily picture the poet walking on a busy London street, listening to the stream of water coming from the fountain inside a shop. He was so homesick that he successfully conjured up the lake of his youth, Lough Gill, from the engineered fountain in a shop-window. The Isle of Innisfree is his utopia, the object of his ideal,  Le point vierge, as Thomas Merton would have called it. It is the youthful, uncorrupted,  sacred place, reserved in the deepest core of our being. I think it is by the Will of God that we have a desire to return to innocence.

But even with that full understanding, I don’t know why this poem sounds a bit like escapism in the aesthetic form today. Maybe because I just read chapter 6 in the book of Isaiah, the great Old Testament prophet. When the Lord asked, “Whom shall I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”, Prophet Isaiah did not hesitate. He had an immediate respond. “Here I am. Send me.” The Lord answered, “Yes, go.” and He gave His message.

The great voice of the prophet through whom God spoke is, of course, destined to be different from the voice of a homesick poet. As a matter of fact, more people liked the voice of Yeats than that of the Prophet Isaiah during each of their times. Isaiah was unpopular during his ministry because his messages were too difficult to hear. God foretold him that people would not listen. That was the burden the prophet Isaiah had to carry. A burden all true prophets must carry.

One voice told its deep longing for his youth, the times of tranquility and peace.

The other told its fearless warning for God’s people.

Two different voices in two distinct ways. So different that the distinction is quite clear in the following two songs sung by the very same voice of Daniel O’Donnell.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s