The campus was almost empty. It always is by sundown. That is why I like it so much. The silent darkness, with no obstructing sounds. Nothing other than the occasional crow, flying overhead back home. No mobile phones that go off, no loud music playing on some jazzy Chinese model. Silence, sundown and me. I choose my favorite spot to sit. The corner cement bench beneath the old peepal. It is bang opposite the ground. It is a great place. More so, when the ground is empty and filled with marshy grass. The green of the grass takes on a different tinge as the sun sets behind it. The entire place acquires na old gothic charm, something so close to Yeats’
Nature is beautiful, humanity is not. I find animals much more human than humans themselves. I was thinking about such thoughts again, rambling my way through the spreading darkness. Yet my pen had not moved, nor a blot off ink made on the paper. The shuffle of footsteps right beside me never entered my conscious brain. What made me turn I do not know, but I turned eventually. An old man was sitting next to me. He was reading a book, quietly in the light falling from the street lamp nearby. I tried to read the cover, but it was kept at a strange angle from me. I gave up and went back to my book.
“So you write?” said an unusual quivering voice from behind me. I turned to stare at the old man. “Yes. Sometimes”. “Good. It is a very good habit. Useful to improve your language.” “Yes’. “It also feels good. You know, when you have no one to talk to; the whole world might ignore you but that notepad will listen.” “Yes. I know”. “What do you study?” “I am a graduate.” “In what?” “English”. “Ah!! A literature graduate... Good. You are very lucky. Most people these days would go for IT. Why did you choose this?”. “I did not get enough marks.” “Ohh!! But it is a very interesting subject. What authors have you read?”. “ Many. But I am more interested in poetry.” “Excellent. I am myself very interested in poetry. I love the way language flows with the emotion. You should never read poetry, you know? You should feel it!!” “Yes. I know”. “Have you ever read Yeats?” “ Yes”. “He is my favorite. There was this poem that I remember ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’…
What happened next was an experience I shall never forget. The man started reciting the poem. Reciting it in a manner I never have heard before. My professors told me Yeats had a mystical voice, this voice was no different. The air moving around the campus, swirling in its hollow darkness added to its sense of mystery. I sat stunned and listened as the voice sang .When he finished, I looked at him. Staring unashamedly. “I am sorry to disturb you. I just wanted to speak. You know, someday I hope to go to a place like Innisfree”. I smiled and said “Yes. I know.”
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.