The girl with golden hair

by Wolf Pascoe on June 24, 2011

I went out to the hazel wood,
Birth of VenusBecause a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

— William Butler Yeats,
“The Song of the Wandering Aengus”


I’m sad, Nick told me the other day.


Because Caroline’s leaving.

It’s true. In the fall, Caroline, a girl Nick has known four years and who’s had a crush on him for the last two, will be leaving Fern Hill to attend another school.

Nick is oblivious to the crush. Sometimes Caroline, who is eight, drapes her arm around him. Mostly, he ignores this.

“What do you think about Caroline,” I asked him once.

“I have no clue,” he said.

The course of true love never did run smooth.




Sometime before a boy’s tenth year, he’ll have a vision. A girl will appear. She’ll have golden hair, and like the girl in the Yeats poem, she’ll vanish in the brightening air. I myself had such a vision once. I’ve never been released from the spell.

Maud GonneI’m in good company. Yeats had a particularly bad case of the girl, who appeared in his life in the person of Maude Gonne. She refused to marry him, despite his four proposals. He wrote of her:

I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


Simonetta VespucciBotticelli painted Simonetta Vespucci over and over after she died as a young woman. At his request, he was buried at her feet. She appears in the “Birth of Aphrodite” from which is taken the detail at the top of this post. It’s a painting I have spent some time with. Here she is again.


A lot can happen to you, spending time with a painting. Simonetta’s demure mouth is lovely, of course, but it’s those half-closed, bedroom eyes that get me. One kiss from such a puella will undo you. It could happen, I think, even if you kissed the canvas.


Lyla-Lerrol-SupermanThis one. Her name is Lyla Leroll. I first saw her when a boy, in a story written by Joe Schuster himself. She was the most famous movie star on the planet Krypton. She became Superman’s lover when he traveled back in time, but alas, fate divided them at the moment of surrender. The panel, with it’s lovely green, red, and purple moons—purple to match her dress—shows her at the exact instant she knows she will never see him again.


These unobtainable women, who live on unobtainable planets. They are wind and cloud. Jung made much of them, of course, and for good reason. Every few years he found another.


Krypton Silver_Age


I wait for Nick’s girl with golden hair. She’s out there. Maybe this sadness over Caroline means he’s ready. He’ll turn a corner, or the page of a book, or see some movie.

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she’ll walk into his.
. . .



Last night I dreamt about Camilla Parker Bowles

Second wish



Guinevere, by Donovan. The most beautiful song in the world, or nearly so. Listen for 24 seconds. If you like it but have to run, I’m sure you’ll find it on iTunes:

I can’t help myself. Donovan again, The Song of the Wandering Aengus, set to music and beautifully illustrated in woodcut style:

Oh, I could go on and on. Somebody stop me before I embed again.

Aengus, by the way, is the Irish god of love.

. . .

LAST WEEK I wrote a guest post for Jane Friedman’s There Are No Rules, a blog on the Writer’s Digest website. The post was called 4 Steps to Useful Critiques: The Lerman Method. It describes an approach to offering feedback for a piece of writing. I happen to think it’s a fruitful way to approach art-making in general, both for artists and audiences.


Thoughts about the girl with golden hair? Add your comment below. I always respond here.


Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
BigLittleWolf June 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm

What an exquisite musing, Wolf.


Wolf Pascoe June 24, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Thanks, Wolf.

Sirena June 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Alert, Alert! Call the Uffizi guards – Wolf is trying to kiss the Botticelli painting!
Thank you for this very delightful posting. Very romantic and sweet. I feel dreamy and serene…

Wolf Pascoe June 24, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Somebody was bound to rat me out to the guards.

Jack Adams June 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Simply beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
And yeah… I had a golden lass once upon a time as well.

Wolf Pascoe June 24, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Was she at summer camp?

Planner2015 June 25, 2011 at 8:19 pm

How beautiful. I like to think I was that golden lass (except with raven hair) once some years ago…

Girls have them, too. There was a boy named Tommy … but in reality I have my Prince Charming now and we are quite smitten.

It is one of those things about childhood that we understand so clearly. We can only hope to be able to share the right words at the right time.

Wolf Pascoe June 25, 2011 at 10:28 pm

To be smitten now is very heaven.

Kristen @ Motherese June 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm

My husband recites that poem to my boys most nights before bed. Now Botticelli’s Venus will dance through my head when I hear it.

My three year old’s best friend and first love (perhaps) is moving at the end of the summer. When I asked him recently what he most likes to do with wee Anna, he replied, “Somersaults.” Ahh, the metaphors…

Wolf Pascoe June 29, 2011 at 9:44 am

Your husband recites Yeats to the boys? He’s a keeper!

Kristen @ Motherese June 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Yeats, Matthew Arnold, Tennyson. And from memory.

I caught myself a keeper indeed.

Wolf Pascoe June 30, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I want him in my men’s group!

Barbara June 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm

What a beautiful post, Wolf. I hope I’m someone’s golden lass (I think every girl hopes to be one) and I for sure have several ‘golden lads’ even though I, too, married my Prince Charming. I love those Donovan songs – some of my favorites. Congrats on the Writer’s Digest article – I’ll go read it now. (I hope I didn’t break any rules here with my comment!!)

Wolf Pascoe June 29, 2011 at 9:44 am

No rules broken. But I’m sure you’ve broken many a golden boy’s heart.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: