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.
. . .
In his poem The Stolen Child, William Butler Yeats’ haunting lyrics draw us in, as the faeries tempt us into coming away with them into a fantasy world, away from our pain and sorrow. But at the end, Yeats poetry shows us the cost of this enticement, when we’ve forgotten how beautiful the commonplace things are.
Away with us he’s going
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
The desires in our heart draw us into the fantasy world; it promises fulfillment and a way to escape pain. Like the son in the Biblical parable, we long for excitement away from home.
But the prodigal son is saved when he comes back to his senses among the pigs. The Father runs to meet him with joy, though he is ragged and bereft of all his human inheritance, to clothe him with fine clothes and to prepare a banquet for him. Because he was lost and now was found, there is celebration, a feast of abundance.