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 honey-bee,
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.
Whether on the roadway or on the pavements grey
I hear it in my deep heart's core
(I recited this poem in front of 60 or so people at his graveside, a microphone shaking in my hand as I tried to blank out all the curious faces of his family and friends, some of whom - including one or two of his daughters family - who now knew about me for the first time after all these years. He had an amazing memory for poetry. And he smuggled it into my childhood. As a child, Brendan was almost the only person we knew with a car. I didn't know he was my father then, he was just a glamourous, gentle stranger who always wore a suit and tie and arrived from Ireland every few months bringing presents and laughter and who picked me out for special attention. One of my earliest memories is of him arriving unexpectedly at our flats in a shiny new red hire car from the airport, coming like a movie star into our lives, taking me off for 'a spin' without any of my cousins, or slipping me out of that world to have lunch with him in a marble-floored hotel in the 'West End' as he called it. He wasn't much of a talker alone with a small girl, but I guess he got across what he wanted to get across with poetry, poems and lines of poems filling the silences, or else filling my head with dreams, which were a dangerous. commodity back then. Car journeys in particular brought out the poetry in him - on all those spontaneous visits to see us all in London, or, later, the long drives to and from both boarding schools. And Innisfree was one of his favourite Yeat's poems. As I got older and became the cheeky, (slightly) rebellious teenager (which in retrospect I see he encouraged - almost created as a balance to the earlier part of my childhood...). His endless reciting (instead of answering my stack of 'why's' about their decisions about my life, once I discovered he was my father) would often infuriate me. I would sit in the back, a stroppy teenager gazing out over endless green countryside pretending not to listen. But somehow the poetry got in and passed on. I wasn't even sure I knew all the words to this poem. Until in the church seeing his daughters and granddaughters go up one by one to give a reading or pay tribute I realised I needed to say a public goodbye too. So in the cemetry I asked the priest if I could have the microphone and was surprised at my memory as every word of 'Innisfree' tumbled out. 'That's where I'll go when it's all over' he always said 'and live alone in a bee-loud glade (which he claimed was one of the finest lines of any poem). I don't know if his other daughters knew Innisfree
or had poetry threaded through their childhoods the way I did - I think we all had our own Brendan. I like to think he would have been proud of me standing there in the cold the other day reciting it from memory down to his coffin.
You'll be missed...I hope you're reciting poems in heaven....I wouldn't doubt you boy....)