Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear & William Butler Yeats

Posted July 23, 2012 by Sara | Novel Novice 1 Comment

At the beginning of Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear is the following quote from William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Stolen Child”

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand.
For the world’s more full of weeping
than you can understand.

The poem serves as a mood-setter for the rest of the book, and is even referenced later in the text itself.

Yeats’ poem is based on an Irish legend about faeries luring children away from their families — and besides its influence on Innocent Darkness, the famous poem as also influenced other works of literature and music.

Keith Donahue’s novel The Stolen Child is one of my favorite books inspired by Yeats’ poem:

I am a changeling–a word that describes within its own name what we are bound and intended to do. We kidnap a human child and replace him or her with one of our own. . . .

The double story of Henry Day begins in 1949, when he is kidnapped at age seven by a band of wild childlike beings who live in an ancient, secret community in the forest. The changelings rename their captive Aniday and he becomes, like them, unaging and stuck in time. They leave one of their own to take his place, an imposter who must try–with varying success–to hide his true identity from the Day family. As the changeling Henry grows up, he is haunted by glimpses of his lost double and by vague memories of his own childhood a century earlier.

Narrated in turns by Henry and Aniday, The Stolen Child follows them as their lives converge, driven by their obsessive search for who they were before they changed places in the world. Moving from a realistic setting in small-town America deep into the forest of humankind’s most basic desires and fears, this remarkable novel is a haunting fable about identity and the illusory innocence of childhood.

Loreena McKennitt also set the poem to music:

For the comments: Where else have you seen “The Stolen Child” referenced in literature or pop culture?

Sara | Novel Novice

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