BIRTH, SO STILL. Day 1 of A month with Yeats


Jane Dougherty is not doing NaNoWriMo, let’s be clear about that. But she is busy doing something else equally inspiring- spending a month in the company of W.B. Yeats and asking us to join her- each day this month Jane will pick a line from a Yeats poem and write a new poem inspired by it and wants us to join in too! Below is the link, not only to this adventure but also to her wealth of poetry and short stories and links to her own novels- there are even wormholes!

Today’s quote is: “they will ride the North when the ger-eagle flies, with heavy whitening wings, and a heart fallen cold:” —W. B. Yeats

My poem is entitled: Birth, so still


And the babies were born, broken,

while the seasons still turned, maiden

mothers moved from baring to being left

barren as cowering cloaks cut through

cords, bitter brides in black, climbing

on their crosses, splitting the sin

from the so-called sinner, discarding

the truth with the afterbirth, no grace

for the births so still, no remorse

for the innocence expunged, the girl

grown woman too soon. ‘Fly north

little ones,’ the mourning whispered,

‘take comfort in the bright star,

the North Star, freedom lies beyond

the blackened wings these withered

women wear, they have not lost

to love, they have not shivered

in the absence of that first cry.

The eagle is on the rise in the night

sky and on his feathers you will soar.’


All words by Damien B. Donnelly

Picture from the Net.

Audi version available on Soundcloud…

16 thoughts on “BIRTH, SO STILL. Day 1 of A month with Yeats

  1. Jane Dougherty

    This is a powerful poem! When I saw the words still and birth so close together, I knew we were in for something tragic. Where did they go wrong? Elevating the family to sacred status and being so cruel to women and children. So good, Damien. Thanks for writing.

      1. Jane Dougherty

        I know Yeats had problems with Catholicism, but I wonder what his thoughts were on this particularly ugly aspect of it. He wasn’t noted for being a progressive in his social attitudes. I like to think the sensitive poet would have been shocked though.

      2. deuxiemepeau

        The other woman would have been far too much for his sensitive nature! Every good poet needs a good heartache!!

      3. Jane Dougherty

        I sometimes think we’ve lost sight of what makes poetry great. I will never ever understand why Maya Angelou is so rated. If that’s great poetry then I’m living on a different planet.

    1. deuxiemepeau

      Thank you Merril. Jane always instills something in you to push harder! This came out harder than I had expected but I couldn’t resist! I was hoping for a little beauty like yours but broken took over my pen!

  2. Stefanie Neumann

    Oh man! I was going to read this poem aloud to Kim, but I’m afraid my voice will break.
    I read in a comment above that the poem came out harder than expected and I am glad you allowed it. These women and children have been exposed to a hard treatment (as I know you know) and I find it appropriate to talk about it without whitewashing it and glossing it over.
    Thank you for speaking up as clear and pure as you did!
    Much Love,

    1. deuxiemepeau

      Thank you so much Steffi. It was harder than I thought but I am happy with how it developed and I totally agree- speaking out is so needed!
      Hugs hugs and thanks 🤗🤗

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