Yeats and Marilyn
“Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”
Someone who doesn’t know me terribly well was at my house recently for the first time and as he existed the bathroom, well downstairs toilet, he looked at me and said “So Marilyn and Yeats? Well I guess you could do worse” Or something in that vein- I really should write these things down when I first hear them. My memory isn’t what it used to be, plus in my defense I was in the early throes of jet lag and had downed a few glasses of bubbly, but I digress. The point is that this room, like many of the rooms in my house, is adorned with pictures of Marilyn. What it has too, right up there alongside Marilyn, are two of my favourite poems –The Lake Isle of Innisfree and The Stolen Child
Now at first this pairing my seem a little strange, she a Hollywood movie star, he a prominent figure in 20th century literature, and although Marilyn may have been no stranger to literary types, Yeats’ interest in acting was rather more political than hers. Anyway Yeats was already preoccupied with another young lady with the initial M ,so I think he had enough going on.
I love them equally and see no incongruity in hanging a picture of Marilyn beside The Stolen Child. In fact, I think she’d have gotten quite a kick out of this arrangement, plus this particular poem would have resonated with her far more than most.
Part of their appeal is that they are both dreamers. Marilyn’s dreams shaped her life, the 20th century and Yeats’ dreams shaped a nation.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
I have always loved these lines, the plea for understanding and kindness. The note of caution and the implied suggestion that you do not trample on my dreams. That we all are a little susceptible, vulnerable and we all have our dreams that we do not wish to have destroyed. I think Marilyn’s dreams were eviscerated by fame, DNA and worst of all, people who could have worn soft fluffy slippers but instead chose wear steel toe boots . Yeats, well he too was pummeled by religion, by political turmoil, and by the thick, lumbering footsteps of unrequited love.
When people do not heed Yeats’ advice; when they intentionally, or unintentionally, knock, trample or crush your dreams – it hurts. It is as simple, as uncomplicated, as that.
So please – watch where you step.