Sequins and Sapphires: Aedh and Naedh
By Kathryn Kazibwe, Uganda:
Have you ever read something that touched you so deep you feel like the writer wrote it with you in mind? I have. It is a very unnerving yet lovely feeling, like you've been found by someone you don't even know. I find that I get this feeling most from reading/listening to poetry. And one particular poem has always done it for me; 'Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' by W.B. Yeats. I first read it in secondary school, when I was the most hopeless romantic on Earth, and it stuck to my mind ever since.
It speaks of a guy who is in deep love. (Which poem doesn't?) This guy talks about how if he had all these fancy things, he would lay them at his lovers feet. But all he has are his dreams, and so implores her to tread softly because she treads on his dreams.
I gave the girl a name, Naedh. Of course if they were Baganda this wouldn't work as they would belong to the same clan, but thankfully, they're not. And I couldn't think of a better name. Over the years, I've made up Aedh and Naedh stories about what happened before and after the poem.
I try to imagine what Naedh is like, whether she loves him back or if she is just toying with him. Maybe she doesn't even know he exists, and he just writes about her in his diary, and says these words to her in a fantasy. Predictably, my favorite version is the one where she secretly loves him back, but cannot tell him because she's afraid he might not be on that plot. Besides, this was written in 1899; I don't think women were in the habit of proclaiming their love for men first in those days. Anyway, when he finally plucks up the courage to write her the poem, it is like an epiphany. If I could, I would write a cute little comeback poem from Naedh in which she informs him that his dreams are in safe hands (or feet), and they live happily ever after. Sigh. If only all relationships would be like Aedh and Naedh's.
In the evil 2013 version, Aedh has those cloths of heaven he so wishes for. He buys Naedh lots of gifts and takes her for dinner countless times. He expects no other reward than to get into her pants, but he knows he must do that in style, hence the poem. And it is just as well because if he dares to whip out those dreams, Naedh will trample on them irreverently. Dreams are not what make her look as great as she does. Some time into the relationship, he finds out she is cheating. They both end up with someone different, drop a few lines on Whatsapp once in a while, but that's it.
I don't know what inspired Yeats to write the poem, or if he even had a background story to it. I really don't want to know anyway, because that would be the end of my versions. Imagination always beats reality.
Here is the poem. Enjoy spinning stories from it!
Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by W.B. Yeats
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths,
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But, I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.