I took a turn east while looking for something Irish to share for St. Patrick’s Day. Yeats took an interest in Eastern thought, and in Japanese Noh theater, writing poetic dramas based on Irish myths to be performed in a manner based on the formal, stylized simplicity of Noh. This poem struck me as a kind of awakening.
Imitated from the Japanese
A most astonishing thing—
Seventy years have I lived;
(Hurrah for the flowers of Spring,
For Spring is here again.)
Seventy years have I lived
No ragged beggar man,
Seventy years have I lived,
Seventy years man and boy,
And never have I danced for joy.
In Haruki Murakami’s short story collection, After the Quake, a man dances alone on a baseball mound in the middle of the night.
“Yoshiya took off his glasses and slipped them into their case. Dancing, huh? Not a bad idea. Not bad at all. He closed his eyes and, feeling the white light of the moon on his skin, began to dance all by himself … Unable to think of a song to match his mood, he danced in time with the stirring of the grass and the flowing of the clouds. Before long he began to feel that someone, somewhere was watching him. His whole body—his skin, his bones—told him with absolute certainty that he was in someone’s field of vision. So what? He thought. Let them look if they want to. All God’s children can dance.”
The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats, Macmillan, New York, 1974
All God’s Children Can Dance, short story in After the Quake, Haruki Murakami, Vintage International, 2003, translation by Jay Rubin