“At Galway Races” was written in Coole Park, Lady Gregory's house, in 1908 after the poet had spent a day at the Galway Race Meeting. That is over a century ago but the wish it expresses is the same as that expressed by the new Minister for the Arts in Ireland, Heather Humphries, in a recent radio interview. It is a wish that is shared by virtually all artists, literary and otherwise, however 'elitist' they're supposed to be: "Art for everybody." And it is one that Yeats expressed often in prose and poetry.
AT GALWAY RACES
There where the course is,
Delight makes all of the one mind,
The riders upon the galloping horses,
The crowd that closes in behind:
We, too, had good attendance once,
Hearers and hearteners of the work;
Aye, horsemen for companions,
Before the merchant and the clerk
Breathed on the world with timid breath.
Sing on: somewhere at some new moon,
We'll learn that sleeping is not death,
Hearing the whole earth change its tune,
Its flesh being wild, and it again
Crying aloud as the racecourse is,
And we find hearteners among men
That ride upon horses.
A literary giant of the twentieth century, William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) was the first Irishman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Posted July 27, 2020