When I first started playing fiddle many years ago, my aunt sent me a poem by Irish poet, William Butler Yeats called The Fiddler of Dooney. I loved it because it is about a fiddler, because an Irish poet wrote it, and heck, because it rhymed and who doesn’t love that?
I memorized the poem because it had a great rhythm to it and I loved reciting it. I then stuck the poem in my fiddle case.
Many years later, some friends and I were asked to play in a concert on St. Patrick’s Day celebrating women in Irish music. I was so honored to be asked to play in an auditorium setting, but even more honored that my aunt would be coming to watch me.
As a tribute to her, I wanted to showcase something special. So in between our tune sets I read this poem aloud that night. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to share something that I so adored — music and poetry, and on a night celebrating St. Patrick.
To this day, that poem still resides inside my fiddle case and every now and then, I pull it out and recite it because it makes me smile.
“…For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle,
And the merry love to dance…”
Recently, I was re-introduced to this poem at a concert by Joe K. Walsh who put beautiful music to it.
The thing I love about art, poetry and music is that it can mean different things at different times in your life. Since I recently saw Joe perform this and this week is Thanksgiving week, today, this poem reminds me not only to be thankful for all the music in my life, but to be thankful for the loving family and friends that surround me. For what is music and poetry if you can’t share it?
I’m also thankful to Joe K. Walsh for really bringing this poem to life for me once again. For his rendition of The Fiddler of Dooney makes me want to “dance like a wave of the sea.”