Today is the birthday of Irish poet W.B. Yeats. I think of Yeats as someone who, no matter how many birthdays he had, never really got old. When most of us are young, we worry that we'll lack the commitment to live our youthful ideals as time goes on. Most of us are right. That's how we get old. It's not always for the worst, of course, but there's something pretty great about the way Yeats continued to seek out the mysterious and beautiful right till the end of his life. Even his few years in the Irish Senate couldn't kill his youthful ambitions to seek out the strange and lovely, an ambition set out wonderfully in the last stanza of this early poem:

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

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