Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I will arise and go

Here's a charming snippet from a short essay in The Christian Science Monitor:

Some people are proficient at inventing [computer] passwords they can recall later without delay. I am not one of them. And the advice I got about choosing passwords didn't help me. Besides, I wanted a password that would boost my spirits and prepare me to face the tasks ahead.

In a moment of inspiration I chose Iwa&g&g2If for a password. It's an adaptation of the first line of William Butler Yeats's famous poem, "The Lake Isle of Inisfree": "I will arise and go [now], and go to Innesfree."

Although my choice may look odd, it has all the requirements my server demands: capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. But there was another advantage, I soon realized. I don't mechanically punch the keyboard when I use this password. Instead, the words behind that line dance in my head, and I silently recite the rest of the poem as the computer screen says, "recovering your settings" or "logging on."

Maybe I shouldn't say this, but my passwords are always Bible verses. I'm currently using four. All those letters, numbers, and colons make for nice secure passwords, except that I can never remember which passwords are for which sites and I usually have to go through two or three of them before I can get in. Still, using poems is a great idea. And if your appetite has been whetted, as mine was, for another look at "The Lake Isle of Innisfree," here it is:

I will arise and go now,
And go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there,
Of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there,
A hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there,
For peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning
To where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer,
And noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now,
For always night and day
I hear lake water lapping
With low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway
Or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

William Butler Yeats, 1865-1939

When I looked up the poem just now, I came across something I'd never seen before--an excerpt from Yeats' autobiography that explains how he came to write this poem:

I had [in London] various women friends on whom I would call towards five o'clock mainly to discuss my thoughts that I could not bring to a man without meeting some competing thought, but partly because their tea and toast saved my pennies for the bus ride home; but with women, apart from their intimate exchanges of thought, I was timid and abashed. I was sitting on a seat in front of the British Museum feeding pigeons when a couple of girls sat near and began enticing my pigeons away, laughing and whispering to one another, and I looked straight in front of me, very indignant, and presently went into the Museum without turning my head towards them. Since then I have often wondered if they were pretty or merely very young. Sometimes I told myself very adventurous love-stories with myself for hero, and at other times I planned out a life of lonely austerity, and at other times mixed the ideals and planned a life of lonely austerity mitigated by periodical lapses. I had still the ambition, formed in Sligo in my teens, of living in imitation of Thoreau on Innisfree, a little island in Lough Gill, and when walking through Fleet Street very homesick I heard a little tinkle of water and saw a fountain in a shop-window which balanced a little ball upon its jet, and began to remember lake water. From the sudden remembrance came my poem "Innisfree," my first lyric with anything in its rhythm of my own music. I had begun to loosen rhythm as an escape from rhetoric and from that emotion of the crowd that rhetoric brings, but I only understood vaguely and occasionally that I must for my special purpose use nothing but the common syntax. A couple of years later I could not have written that first line with its conventional archaism -- "Arise and go" -- nor the inversion of the last stanza.



Anonymous said...

I use a lot of old phone numbers...or just the last 4 digits combined with a name or place.

However, less 'important' sites I repeat the same easy 2 or 3 passwords over and over again. If a place requires digits, I use the same word, but add some digits...the same ones in the same order.

Otherwise, I think I would forget all my passwords forever. I get the need for passwords, but I really hate them sometimes.

Douglas Cootey said...

I use a mixture of numbers and keywords. You know, things that have relevance to me.

Here's my current favorite password I use for everything from my blog to my bank account to my user login on my home machine.


Oh, wait...

Julana said...

happy valentine's day, Brenda!