Tuesday, September 11, 2012

He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by W. B. Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, 
Enwrought with golden and silver light, 
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths 
Of night and light and the half-light, 
I would spread the cloths under your feet: 
But I, being poor, have only my dreams; 
I have spread my dreams under your feet; 
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

 I found this poem by W.B, Yeats recited by Sir Ken Robinson in a TED speech; "Bring on the learning revolution!" (youtube)

It had some great - and one would thing really quite self-evident titbits of wisdom like -

 "A three year old is not half a six year old."  And while one would think that is self evident, sometimes - not so much.

But most enthralling was the way he wove this poem into the end of his narrative about how schools should - and I think they (very) gradually are - becoming places that are less interested in the factory model and more interested in growing individuals.  The problem is as he points out earlier in the speech -

"It's very hard to know what it is you take for granted - and the reason is...that you take it for granted."

In science it's called questioning your assumptions.  So while his speech was about the learning of children - perhaps it is the learning revolution of adults that most urgently needs to take place in this fast paced modern environment.

Anyway that's more than enough philosophising and speechifying when more poetry awaits with wonders and adventure for all those who dare to travel the 'verse. Travelling the Verse portal is just a click away! ;)

A.J. Ponder's books are available through Rona Gallery, Amazon, Paper Plus and good Wellington bookstores.


  1. Enjoyed this Alicia. Interesting combination! Personally I don't think learning ever stops and then there's the relearning of things you forgot or the new understanding of something you thought you understood. Not to mention the info overload and the question 'do i really need to know that?'

  2. Cheers Helen, I think you're right, learning shouldn't ever stop but sometimes there's information that's simply clutter, and not learning because it has no context but is merely trivia. In which case my plan is to do an Einstein - write it on the wall!! - um, no sorry. Maybe not on the wall - unless it's a digital one.

  3. I never knew that the "Tread softly..." line came from this poem - thanks for posting this and thus clearing up a mystery!

  4. I love this poem, it's definitely an old favourite. Thank you for sharing it again here, Alicia.