From the recording Lady of the Lake-Winter's Eve

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The Wild Swans at Coole - Drowsy Maggie

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The Wild Swans at Coole - (Music by Michael Lawson, words by William Butler Yeats) Written in 1919, this poem describes the essential integrity of the soul despite the passage of time. Significantly, Yeats came into his greatest powers as he neared old age, growing more confident and innovative with his writing until almost the day he died.
© 2014 Michael Lawson

Drowsy Maggie (Trad.) -- This popular reel is played at sessions all over the world, and probably dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. It's a lively tune, not slow as the name would imply, perhaps meant to wake up some drowsy Maggie.


The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine and fifty swans.

The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold,
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?