Posts tagged quotes

An Irishman’s Laugh

To say that my great grandfather was a n Irishman went back a few generations.  His family began their trip tow hat was the the “colonies” in the 1700’s. Yet, they kept their Irish customs, the Irish brogue and considered themselves ” Irish” despite generations of being in America.

I used to give my grandmother a “Saint Patrick’s Day” card every ear.  It always brought a smile to er face and a good story of her fathers love for the Irish heritage that had been handed down to him largely by oral history.

My grandmother always loved to hear her father’s laugh when something that aggravated him happened.  A a father of 12, he would laugh and ay, “At least I don’t have any red-headed children.”

I always though that was an odd way to be thankful.  As the generations progressed, quite a few red-headed descendants appeared.  I am sure he would have loved them, and with a jolly Irish laugh, think of another way to be thankful for the little things that go right.


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When one teaches, two lea…

When one teaches, two learn.

Robert Half

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William Butler Yeats- A History, Poem and Quote

William Butler Yeats- A History, Poem and Quote

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) has long been among my favorite writers. Having come from Irish stock, I was immediately attracted to the flavor of his  Irish style and his reliance on Irish folklore and legend for many of his works.

Yeats was born in Dublin, Ireland, but the family lived in London from 1867 until late in 1889. They spent summers at his family’s summer house in Connaugh. His father, John Bulter Yeats was a lawyer as well as a portrait painter. His brother was also a painter. The name Butler came from one of his maternal grandmothers family.

The Home rule movement had become a strong force during his years in London, and upon returning to Dublin, it had a great a great influence on his writing. By 1897, he had returned to London, and soon co-founded a group of poets known as the Rhymers’ Club.

Although his first widely published work consisted of verses (1887), he loved dramatic production and much of his early work was in that area. He was a popular playwright an co-founder of the Irish Theatre (along with Lady Gregory) which later became the Abbey Theatre.

Yeats was fascinated by spiritualism and mysticism and it was often a subject in his works.  He joined a paranormal research association called ,“The Ghost Club” in 1911 and was involved in several other societies within this realm of thought. Some of the most well known plays with underlying themes in this area  were The Countess Cathleen (1892), The Land of Heart’s Desire (1894), Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902), The King’s Threshold (1904), and Deirdre (1907).

In 1896, Yeats had been introduced to Lady Gregory, after which time, Yeats work turned to a style that was more poetic and dramatic. He loved the use of elaborate costumes, using them often in his plays.

William Butler Yeats was highly spirited and outwardly opinionated. He despised the Nationalist movement which he saw as filled with hatred and bigotry.  His poetry, in particular took a stance against it in the period of  1910-20. After a tumultuous infatuation with Nationalist and Catholic convert, Maude Gonne, his poetry sometimes took on a cynical tone.

William Butler Yeats met Ezra Pound, an American poet, in 1909. who he spent a great deal of time with. When Pound published some of Yeats work with unauthorized  changes, their relationship became strained ,however Pounds introduction to the work of Japanese playwright Noh, who had a profound effect on his writing style.

Yeats had little success with relationships with women and by age 51, in 1916, he seemed desperate to produce an heir, After another brief encounter with Maude Gonne and her daughter, Yeats married 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees  in October of 1916. The produced two children, Anne and Michael.   Georgie shared Yeats interest in the paranormal and they spent the first years of their marriage involved in the pursuit of contacting spirits, séances and using the services of “Spirit Guides. One book came of this period in his life.

Yeats was appointed to the Irish Senate in 1922 and served until 1928. This was a time when his popularity as a playwright was established and well appreciated.  Ironically, much of his greatest work was written after He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923, but ironically, much of his greatest work was written after that time. The work that lead to his receiving the Nobel Prize dealt primarily with his dramatic productions, while he is best known today for his poetry and lyric productions. He produced five outstanding works in the field of poetry during the years form 1919 to 1940. His popularity came largely from his ability to make contrasts between the arts and life, and the cyclical nature of life and of trials and achievements.

Throughout his life, Yeats centered his work on mysticism, the occult, and religious and spiritual concepts from Buddhism,  and Hinduism to Christianity. In his later years, he even published a table where he assigned personalities on phases of the moon.  Many of my favorite of his works come from his early poetry and inspiring quotes, my favorites of which I have copied below. William Butler Yeats died on Jan. 28, 1939, in Roquebrune, France, after one of several periods of poor health.

Brown Penny  by William Butler Yeats

I whispered, ‘I am too young,’
And then, ‘I am old enough’;
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
‘Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair.’
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

Quote by William Butler Yeats

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

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Favorite Quotes by Plato

While researching for another article, I came upon some of my favorite quotes. Among them are a few from Plato, the Greek Philosopher.

My dad has adopted this one for himself: The Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you will end up being governed by your inferiors.

The greatest wealth is to live content with little.

There are three classes of men: lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor and lovers of gain.

This, and no other is the root from which a tyranny springs-when he first appears he is a protector


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The Wisdom to Know

Today, I went to a party celebrating a dear friends sons’ graduation from high school. His older brother was one of the best friends of my then 15 year old son, who I lost very suddenly in 2006. It was difficult for me to go to this house where my son spent so many fun days and nights.  It wasn’t going to my friends house that made it hard, it was going there to celebrate something that my son never go to do-graduate from high school.

I used to tell my son that I wanted to hear his name called out when he graduated, with the symbolic “with honors” tucked behind his name.  Since that horrible day when I lost him, I would give anything to hear his name called out at graduation at all.  He would be a senior in college this coming fall, an adult.  When I looked at his friends’ younger brother today, I saw an adult, and choked back tears, knowing that I would never see my son make the transition that this young man has made since the loss of my son.

I find myself constantly wondering what life would be like had my son lived.  I think of how he would look, what he would be doing, if I would be healthy now, happy now.  I think of all the misery I have endured since his loss, the illnesses caused by the trauma of his death, the damage to my faith, my family, my ability to relate to others, how others relate to me. It is overwhelming.

I have struggled greatly during these years as I fought through the emptiness , the guilt a parent feels when they loose a child, the way people treat you so differently than they did before.  The first thing someone I know thinks when they see me is, “She lost her son.”  Mothers inevitably talk about their children, their accomplishments, their ages, their lives. When someone I don’t know, or who doesn’t know me well, asks me. “How many children do you have?”  I cannot bring myself to say “five” instead of “six”-he was mine, I love him-present tense, he is a part of me, I refuse to simply say “five” in order to spare myself the pain of explaining.

When I say that I have six kids, they ask me about them and I have to, in some way, tell them that I lost my son. I open myself up to the untenable  pain of explaining the unexplainable.  I fight back tears, or maybe don’t win the fight. I have recently attempted to make a valiant effort to reclaim at least the part of my life that is possible to reclaim.  The statement  made famous by President John F Kennedy, but originally said  by a man named Reinhold Niebuhr, comes to mind.  It states:  “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

I think the last part of that statement is the hardest one to understand.  Can I change the fact that my precious son is no longer with me? No.  Can I regain my health in the state in was before his loss? No. Can  ever find my faith again, reclaim the way my family saw  me as strong, tough, enduring? I don’t know. Do I have the strength to keep trying? Maybe-I have for nearly six horrible years. It is the last part that confounds me-the wisdom to know the difference.

It seems that one day, I feel it is impossible for me to ever feel like I hold the place in my family, in the lives of those I encounter that I did before I lost my son. I feel they look on me with pity, sadness, not knowing how to act. It’s almost like they are afraid of me.  They don’t know what to say or do or how I will react.  I cannot bear the well-intended religious comments about “God being with me,”  ” I will pray for you”. or “If you will turn it over to God…” I feel God let my son down, let me down, that I had turned “it” over to God when I felt something was wrong around my son, and couldn’t seem to figure out what it might be. Will I ever be able to feel the assurance that God cares again?  Right now, I cannot imagine it.

That is my greatest issue at present-to decide what I can change, accept what I cannot change and somehow have the wisdom to know the difference.

As milestones in my life and in the lives of my children and other loved ones come and go, I find it difficult to react with the joy that I should, or maintain my calm in the event of sorrow.  I feel great pressure to react in the “proper” way, to at least, in public, present that air of confidence and strength that I once did. As I struggle to “know the difference” and live under these new and oh-so-cruel rules that order my life, I wonder if I will ever come to the point where I can say that I can uphold the thoughts issued in the “Serenity Prayer”.

As we encounter those who have faced horrific losses, endured disabling diseases, or even been told that they or someone they love will not survive, please remember the inner struggles that these people undergo every minute of every day of their lives.  Perhaps, we, as outsiders looking in, should find more compassion in how we deal with those struggling with fear and grief and loss. Maybe we can help them find that “wisdom to know the difference”.



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