Stolen Child ( Day 30 )

Sligo statue, a woman searching for her stolen child. Photo by Bernie Delanry.
Stolen Child ( Bernie Delaney )

The Challenge for Day 30

Today’s challenge is to write about “Innocence”. Maybe even share stories of the younger, more innocent you. My post titled  Memories, Poems & Fairy Ribbons pretty much covered that topic, so I thought it might be nice to try a different angle.  I’ve decided to go with one of my best-loved poets, William Butler Yeats and his poem “The Stolen Child”.


The Stolen Child

“Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”

― William Butler Yeats


Here, Yeats is writing about lost innocence. The child of his imaginings is tempted by fairies to leave the safety and security of normal life, to venture into a tempting unknown. A carefree place of adventure, laughter and friends, everything a child might desire. Of course, once the child is lured away, there is no going back and the fairies add him to their list of conquests, just another fallen human.

William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats is considered to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century and in 1923 he was awarded The Nobel Prize in Literature. He was born in Ireland, spent many years in London, but always cherished his Irish roots. This despite the fact that he was part of the elite at the time, the Protestant Angl0-Irish minority. His Irish heritage was important to him and he identified strongly with his cultural alma mater.  He became immersed in the folklore and legends of Ireland, something he brought to much of his writing.

Although born in Dublin, Yeat’s family later moved to Sligo. This seemed to become his heartland, the muse for much of his poetry. In The Stolen Child, there are many references to local places, like Sleuth Wood and Glencar. He himself wrote, in Collected Works in Verse and Prose of William Butler Yeats: “I should never go for the scenery of a poem to any country but my own, and I think that I shall hold to that conviction to the end.”

There is particular poignancy in this poem though, because W.B. Yeat’s brother, Richard, died at a young age. It adds a layer of meaning that deepens the poem’s impact.



While researching Yeats and The Stolen Child, I came upon some interesting links.

The obvious one is a link to the full poem. Obviously worth reading, the words are haunting and mesmerizing.

But did you know that the poem has been set to music?

In the 1980s, The Waterboys released an album titled ” Fisherman’s Blues”.  It included a collaboration with this Irish rock band and a Sean-nós ( Old style ) singer by the name of Tomás Mac Eoin. And the song? It was The Stolen Child. It took a lot of effort to get the two opposite styles to harmonize, but in the end, it worked like a dream. The Waterboys and Mac Eoin combined to give new life to the poetry.

And then, there’s this version. By Loreena McKennitt, David Woodward, and Brian Hughes. Just another flight into imagination,  following the lead of Yeats.

William Butler Yeats, a remarkable Irishman, poet and human.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h’anam’ , basically it means may his soul find rest. I think he’d be okay with that, he was a proud Irishman, after all.



Day 30 of My 500 Words 31 Day Challenge…Stolen Child. Keeping with my Ireland theme.

The photograph is my own, shot in Sligo, of course. See on Flickr.


  • Bridgid Amboga

    Wooooow! I have never written about a poet but I have one in my mind. I need to find out more about this poet. I like the way William was able to bring out the sadness in the poem that you wrote. He must have been a very good poet. Speaking of poems, I need to write one soon!

    • admin

      W.B. Yeats is my favourite Irish poet, though there are lots of other poets I admire too.
      I wish you the best of success with your poetry writing 🙂

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