My understanding of William Butler Yeats is slim. A poet from Sligo. Had a patron named Lady Gregory. An Irish revolutionary. So…not a lot to go on. Marc, on the other hand, is a world expert with his two-week Yeats Institute Summer School attendance.

But, since I had a day in Sligo, off I went to the famous burial place of Yeats, where his body may or may not be interred in the churchyard at Drumcliffe. The thing about his grave that seems to bring busloads of package tourists, most of whom probably know less than I do about Yeats, is that a poem he wrote late in life commands his burial spot and his epitaph. He wanted to be buried under Ben Bulben, a sort of cliff above land that lords over the entire region, visible nearly everywhere. And his epitaph is just so enigmatic — a puzzle yet to be solved. What does it mean?

Here, have a go. I’m guessing your interpretation is about as good as anyone’s.

Cast a cold Eye

On Life, on Death.

Horseman, pass by.

A few days after visiting the Yeats site, we went to the 5,000 year old Newgrange site and were presented with another Irish mystery carved into stone on a burial mound. The swirling carvings guarding the entrance to the passage tomb is another of Ireland’s wonders. No one can say with certainly what these drawings represent. These places share a common thread. What were their creators trying to say? What is the message left behind? These contemplations stretch the mind and take over thought during a long walk or a tedious drive, in the shower, or waiting for dinner. What does it mean? Maybe the wonder is the object. Maybe we just need to be reminded we don’t know and we can’t know. Maybe we just need to relax and have a pint.

Photos of Ben Bulben and Drumcliffe Church are HERE.