“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…”

This is the opening of a poem by W.B. Yeats (1865-1939). I think the desire to leave the big city and reconnect with the natural world, the longing for peace and solitude, for simplicity, for useful manual activity, is something we can readily identify with.

And just think, Yeats wrote this long before the advent of consumerism, before the invention of television, computers, the internet and mobile phones, before the noise and stress of the M25, Facebook and twitter.

True, Yeats was a public figure and involved in Irish politics, so there was plenty of stress in his life too, but he expresses a general human need for a place of peace where we are in contact with what is really important.

It is difficult for us to simplify our outward lives, caught up as we are in “the system” and complicit with it. All the more important then that we cultivate an inner place of detachment, a solid centre, a place to stand, a place where we get in touch with ourselves and from which we see things in a truer light, if only so we can laugh at the sheer absurdity of much human activity.

This is one of the most important functions of prayer, meditation, sitting in silence, making ourselves open to God, call it what you will.

You can listen to a recording of Yeats reading the whole poem at:

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