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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: Irish Doors and Metaphors

Print: Handcoloured Print No. 270, A Little House, picture by E. C. Yeats, words by W. M. Letts. © The Cuala Press Limited, Dublin, Ireland; Collage: © Robyn Hood Black

Happy Poetry Friday, and Happy February! If you caught my artsyletters post this week, you discovered I’ve become rather obsessed with doors. In that post, I shared new art I’ve started making (and will offer soon in my Etsy shop) - collages with altered vintage books-as-doors, and a literary surprise inside each one (Emily Dickinson is featured in this first one.) This door obsession grew out of a year pondering some doors closing and others opening, not just for me but for family members.


Sharing all this with my husband, Jeff, he mentioned hearing something on NPR this week about how, when we walk from one room to the next and can’t remember what we were looking for, it’s because of the DOOR. Such a powerful metaphor, a door. (I searched in vain for the NPR piece but discovered articles online about the 2011 study at Notre Dame which prompted this idea of “the doorway effect.”)


The collage pictured here and on my art blog this week was made with a 100-year-old book embellished with some fun vintage finds. The doorway image surrounding it is a relief print. I carved a simplified version of those wonderful Georgian doorways one finds all over Dublin. (It was fun pulling out the photo album from a family trip there in 1996.)


Speaking of family, I’ve been doing some freelance writing for another family member. Our current project has involved research into faerie lore, and for that I turned to our esteemed Mr. Yeats, who chronicled much Irish folklore. (Click here and here for William Butler’s biographical info.) Deciding to post something else door-related here today, I remembered the framed print that we bought on that trip to Dublin – Morgan, age 4 at the time, picked it out.

The information sheet accompanying the art explains some history. It’s a hand-colored print from Cuala Press, originally Dun Emer Press, founded by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats (William Butler’s sister) in 1903 . W. B. Yeats served as editorial advisor to the press until his death (1939), and many notable writers including Ezra Pound saw their work first published by it.


The sheet continues, W. B. Yeats in the original 1903 prospectus wrote that all the things made at the press are beautiful in the sense that they are instinct with individual feeling and have cost thought and care. ... (I love that phrase, “cost thought and care.”)




The illustrated poem, written by W. M. Letts,
shows both:

If I had a little house
      A white house on a hill,
With lavender and rosemary
      Beneath the window sill,
The door should stand wide open
      To people of good will.



To close with one last door reference and an eye to Valentine’s Day, I’ll leave you with a stanza near the end of Yeats’s poem, “The Cap and Bells,” which sprang from a dream Yeats experienced and describes a jester’s love for a queen.


She opened her door and her window,
And the heart and the soul came through,
To her right hand came the red one,
To her left hand came the blue.


To read what leads up to this stanza and the ending, click here.

And, would you believe it? The ever-talented and generous April is rounding up Poetry Friday and has a poem about… DOORS! Head over to Teaching Authors and enjoy.
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