Coming soon: A reading of “The Host of the Air”

“The Host of the Air” is a poem by renowned Irish poet, William Butler Yeats.  I first heard this poem back in the mid sixties on an Irish folksong record called, “The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem at Carnegie Hall,” from 1963.  I believe it was read by Liam Clancy, who passed away a few years ago.  Many years ago, I used to try to recite the poem with him as I listened to the cassette in my car.  I just loved the way it sounded.  I tried to memorize all the songs on the album, but some were difficult because they were in Gaelic.

Very soon, I am going to attempt to record myself reciting this poem.  I’ll make it into a YouTube video and add some still shots to it with some transitions. I fear what it will sound like though, because we always sound better in our own minds than we do on recordings.  I’ll just keep trying until I get an acceptable copy, though, so be looking for it!

Here is a preview:


by: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

O’DRISCOLL drove with a song
The wild duck and the drake
From the tall and the tufted reeds
Of the drear Hart Lake.
And he saw how the reeds grew dark
At the coming of night-tide,
And dreamed of the long dim hair
Of Bridget his bride.
He heard while he sang and dreamed
A piper piping away,
And never was piping so sad,
And never was piping so gay.
And he saw young men and young girls
Who danced on a level place,
And Bridget his bride among them,
With a sad and a gay face.
The dancers crowded about him
And many a sweet thing said,
And a young man brought him red wine
And a young girl white bread.
But Bridget drew him by the sleeve
Away from the merry bands,
To old men playing at cards
With a twinkling of ancient hands.
The bread and the wine had a doom,
For these were the host of the air;
He sat and played in a dream
Of her long dim hair.
He played with the merry old men
And thought not of evil chance,
Until one bore Bridget his bride
Away from the merry dance.
He bore her away in his arms,
The handsomest young man there,
And his neck and his breast and his arms
Were drowned in her long dim hair.
O’Driscoll scattered the cards
And out of his dream awoke:
Old men and young men and young girls
Were gone like a drifting smoke;
But he heard high up in the air
A piper piping away,
And never was piping so sad,
And never was piping so gay.
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