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W. B. Yeats Poetfans: Caitlin Montanye Parrish and Brina Rodin


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I work as a caregiver. I've made a friend working with dementia patients. A former poet, Brina is a 94-year-old woman. My employers believed we would have a lot to talk about. This decision was based on the fact that I have Shakespearean verse (from Much Ado About Nothing) tattooed on my left forearm: "No, sure, my lord, my mother cried; but then there was a star danced and under that was I born."

Their hope was that my own knowledge of poetry would stimulate her weakening memory. I discovered she enjoyed Pablo Neruda and T. S. Eliot, but that her great love was Yeats. She had no Yeats collections. I found the collection A Poet to His Beloved, which contains Yeats' early poems to Maud Gonne and gave it to Brina as a gift.

Since then Brina and I have perpetually been reading Yeats together. I've memorized most of the poems at this point, including "The Song of Wandering Aengus," which is Brina's favorite. My love for this woman, and what we mean to each other, needs more than 250 words.

I gave her a Yeats collection. But she gave me Yeats. I had planned on my next tattoo being Shakespeare on the occasion of my marriage. It will now be the closing lines in "The Song of Wandering Aengus" when Brina dies: "The silver apples of the moon, / the golden apples of the sun."

Caitlin Montanye Parrish
Chicago, Illinois

Hear selections from an interview with this Poetfan.