“And if any gaze on our rushing band,
We come between him and the deed of his hand,
We come between him and the hope of his heart.”
– W.B. Yeats, The Hosting of the Sidhe
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. A day to remember those who sacrificed everything that we might live in freedom. I believe that Yeats was on a completely different track with this poem, but I’m drawn to these lines when I think about this particular Memorial Day. Death came between the hopes and dreams of countless soldiers on battlefields far from home. And for their sacrifice we should be eternally grateful. The older I get, the more I recognize this, the more I appreciate their sacrifice, and the more I hope for a day when there are no more sacrifices made to be memorialized.
In The Hosting of the Sidhe Yeats writes of the supernatural and enchantment by faeries. I’ve felt this too, in the form of the whisper of a place of significance, in the form of the muse that I channel, and through listening to the land on deep walks in quiet places far from asphalt and concrete and copper wiring. The beauty of poetry is in the interpretation of the individual. It means something different for me than to you, and perhaps something else entirely to the author. Memorial Day itself is subject to interpretation. I think of weathered gravestones with fresh flags planted beside them that I’ve visited, memorializing heroes of battles long forgotten or never known by most everyone who’s come after their sacrifice. And those lost in more recent battles we’ve collectively conceded to for reasons we don’t fully understand. We owe them more than politicians going through the motions at a ceremony and 20% off (this weekend only!) sales. But that’s the way of the world; it moves ahead anyway, despite that which came between him and the hope of his heart.
This post is heavier than I wanted it to be. I suppose the day warrants that. As the world reflects on the collective sacrifice of all in our effort to keep a virus in check, perhaps take a moment to think of those who sacrificed something more, and act on the hope in our own hearts while there’s still time. We owe it to them, don’t we?