Romantic or Insane ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 129

Moonlight, 1874
Watercolor painting by Winslow Homer.

I shared this painting by Winslow Homer on Facebook the other day with the word Romantic ….. tagged on and was then a bit taken aback when a friend commented: From a Romantic.

All sorts of things came shooting into my mind, including sociological readings where the point is made that in some societies romantic love is perceived as a form of insanity. And what about match-making in the Ireland of not too long ago and even of today in the likes of Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare.

Is romance all about heart ruling head, I ask. But there again, we talk of ‘heady’ days of falling in love.

I have to bear in mind, too, that I’m the person who identified the greatest love poem of them all, here on this blog, as being this one from W.B. Yeats:

When You Are Old

WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars

Insane or otherwise, I think it will matter hugely to me when I am old and grey to know that at least one man loved the pilgrim soul in me.

Will it matter to you, dear friends, or where do you stand, sit, lie on the question of romance and insanity?


Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

6 thoughts on “Romantic or Insane ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 129”

  1. Are the parameters of sanity isolated in an arbitrary constant, or is it better defined as a special kind of variable? Either way, the newspapers suggest a shortage of it. Did romanticism begin in the late 18th century and end by the middle of the 19th? Perhaps the progress of W. B. Yeats’ pilgrim differed slightly from John Bunyan’s. The shortage of romance of lasting quality noticed by some in either journey is a shortage of sincerity in the sojourners’ hearts as they temporarily reside without permanence. But how we position ourselves on the question varies. While some do stand or sit, observation of the mess most people make of it, suggest it not uncommon that they lie. Some lie to others, and some with others. Some of us make adventurous pilgrimages, and some just wander. While wandering, I found myself wondering about a cactus adorned with select swimwear with no shortage whatsoever of imagination.

    1. Van, you make me think of yet another W.B. Yeats poem ~ The Song of Wandering Aengus ~ which is a work of brilliance. It’s interesting that Yeatsm who was such a romantic in some ways, wrote in his poem September 1913, ‘Romantic Irleland’s dead and gone…’

      I think there is probably romantic with a capital ‘R’ and a small ‘r,’ with touches of insanity thrown into each. How that ‘insanity’ is defined is quite another matter and maybe the changes in the 19th century were about changes in that definition or perhaps the move towards more subjective definitions.

      One way or the other, you still continue to make me smile and that has a romanticism all of its own too!

  2. Ah, the one who knows the ‘Pilgrim Soul,’ in me. Reminds me of these words that came upon my heart……I wait for him and all he holds within.

    Wait for me by the garden path
    My walk is slower than thine
    My eyes are not as clear
    My mind is wakening to the sound
    The silence once so frightening
    Is now my dearest friend

    I hear the whisper of the wind in the willows
    The sound of the gull high in the gray silent air
    The rhythm of the earth beneath my barren feet

    Time is marking moments upon my soul
    I am yet growing younger as the numbers march on
    My heart is opening as a flower under greatness’ touch
    The colors are vivid……the smells are strong
    I taste the mist yet upon my tongue….

    My mind is cleared……..
    My heart renewed……..
    My soul revealed…….

    Now ready am I to meet thee by the garden path
    My step dancing like silken fairies
    My eyes laughing like mischievous elves
    My mind expands to reach the soaring eagles
    And I envelop all of nature’s call within
    my once…….timid hidden soul

    Judith A. Stevens

    1. Judith, thanks so much for sharing this most romantic poem. I particularly like the last stanza and especially the idea of ‘eyes laughing like mischievous elves.’

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