Land Of Heart's Desire "The Lonely Of Heart Is Withered Away"

William Butler Yeats

"The Lonely Of Heart Is Withered Away"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Mary Bruin, wife of Shawn Bruin, spends her time reading "an old book" written by the Bruin Grandfather and in day-dreaming. She hears and sees a Faery Child who has come to try to steal her soul. Despite the advice of the older and "wiser" people, Mary invites the Child into the house and feeds her. Then begins a conflict between this world and that of the Faeries. Mary wants to go to Faery-land, where all is peaceful and beautiful, but she loves Shawn and wants to stay with him. Running through the play is the motif of the beauties of the land of heart's desire. It is stated by The Voice before it becomes recognizable as The Child's, by The Child, and by "many voices singing." The beauty and tone of the poem can be illustrated by quoting some of the lines sung by these "many voices":

The wind blows out of the gates of the day,
The wind blows over the lonely of heart,
And the lonely of heart is withered away;
While the faeries dance in a place apart,
Shaking their milk-white feet in a ring,
Tossing their milk-white arms in the air;
For they hear the wind laugh, and murmur and sing
Of a land where even the old are fair,
And even the wise are merry of tongue . . .