The Stolen Child

When I was in college, I heard this song for the first time.  Mike Scott of the Irish band, The Waterboys, wrote the lyrics, based on a poem by William Butler Yeats.

All these years later, I’ve not read much Yeats — though he’s on my reading list !  — for sure though,  I soak up the Irish spirit every time I hear the song, and read these words.

On this Saint Patrick’s Day, I celebrate the spirit, and share these words…

Stolen Child

by Michael Scott, 1988

based on poem by William Butler Yeats

Come away, human child
to the water
Come away, human child
to the water and the wild
With a fairy, hand in hand
for the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand

Where dips the rocky highland
of Sleuth Wood in the lake
There lies a leafy island
where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
there we’ve hid our fairy vats
Full of berries
and of reddest stolen cherries

Come away, human child
to the water
Come away, human child
to the water and the wild
With a fairy, hand in hand
for the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
the dim gray sands with light
Far off by furthest Rosses
we foot it all the night
Weaving olden dances
mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
to and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles
while the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep

Come away, human child
to the water
Come away, human child
to the water and the wild
With a fairy, hand in hand
for the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand

Where the wandering water gushes
from the hills above Glen-Car
In pools among the rushes
the scarce could bathe a star
We seek for slumbering trout
and whispering in their ears
We give them unquiet dreams;
leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
over the young streams

Away with us he’s going
the solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
of the calves on the warm hillside;
Or the kettle on the hob
sing peace into his breast
Or see the brown mice bob
Around and around the oatmeal-chest

For he comes, the human child
To the water
He comes, the human child
To the water and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
From a world more full of weeping than he can understand
Human child
Human child
With a fairy, hand in hand
From a world more full of weeping than he can understand…
Than he can understand…
He can understand…

glenar waterfall_countyleitrim_stolenchild

And here’s the tune, in case you’d like to hear it:

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G-096: Dispatch from the DMV CA

I hadn’t been into the Department of Motor Vehicles in a long time. And so when it was time for my 2019 Driver License renewal? It was time to pay a DMV Field Office a visit.  I was headed to the office in Santa Clara.  It was the place I had taken my original driving test long ago.  It is actually the only DMV office I’ve been to.   I was psyched.

I didn’t think far enough ahead to make an appointment before my license was due to expire, so I queued up on the Non-Appointment Line when I arrived. It was 7:49am on Saturday. There were already 50 people in line outside. The office didn’t open until 8:00am, so the website said. I thought, “51st in line? Shouldn’t take too too long.”

A little boy in a black and red checkered hoodie was waiting on a bench, brought along by his parent on a Saturday morning for the adventure.  My kids were still in bed at home.  Actually, our son had woken up just before I left the house.  The other two were still snoozing.

“Good Luck,” my wife said as I departed. “Enjoy the solitude and your book.” Funny thing, being a parent with three little kids, any time to yourself is luxurious.

When I got inside the DMV building, it seemed like there were a couple hundred folks in various lines, at different stages of being processed, taking care of their business. There were a lot more than the folks I’d seen in line.   But everything seemed to be clicking along at the many work stations scatted throughout the big room.  Bureaucracy at its finest.

I wasn’t sure how long it would take.  Funny thing? I didn’t mind.  I was happy to be taking care of something that had been on my to-do list for a couple months; I was happy about that little bit of solitude; I was happy about the hot coffee in my travel mug.

I chatted with a nice lady in line, enjoyed a little people- watching (I’m told by others that it’s more like “staring”, but I’m working to be more discrete). The variety of people reflected the variety that live in this busy and diverse San Francisco Bay Area. Various languages and attire, on folks of all ages and persuasions. I love it.

A lot happens at the DMV, a variety of transactions and tests and miscellaneous state government business. It’s a main government channel to the masses. If you haven’t been in an office for a while, or haven’t browsed the department’s website, you might forget. I sorta did. So I was grateful things kept moving. Every minute or so another number was called; screens overhead told us what numbers were being served where.

My number? It was G-096.

I waited maybe a half hour, maybe 45 minutes. Then I heard my number on the loud speaker, saw the number on the screen, and things started moving.

I went to Window Number 9. The person there was pleasant and professional. She cut me a little slack to help me correct an error I’d made on my application.

After she was done processing my application and support documents from her station, she sent me on.

I arrived to queue in Line D. Another 10 minute wait. Another nice person at the desk to do her part helping my application move though the process, including the universally loved / hated license headshot photo. I gave a little smile.

Then I moved to Line C to wait for the final steps  of the transaction and issuance of the temporary license.

And then it was done. I walked outside into the brisk morning sunlight. I felt a little moisture in the air, promise of the rain due later in the day. I heard geese honking in the distance.

A couple hours of my life complete, the rest of the weekend ahead, a quiet satisfaction in my head. A basic but very necessary task was accomplished, and some simple lessons, ones I seem to learn over and over again.

Be early. Be prepared. Be friendly. Pay attention. Listen carefully. Be patient. Take your time. Think.

These lessons I try to teach my kids, kids like that little boy I saw sitting on the bench. They’re lessons I keep learning over and over again, too.