70 Works of William Butler Yeats
To The Secret Rose Far off, most secret, and inviolate Rose,Enfold me in my hour of hours; where thoseWho sought thee at the Holy Sepulchre,Or in the wine-vat, dwell beyond the stirAnd tumult of defeated dreams; and deepAmong pale eyelids heavy with the sleepMen have named beauty. Your great leaves enfoldThe ancient beards, the helms […]
Hanrahan, the hedge schoolmaster, a tall, strong, red-haired young man, came into the barn where some of the men of the village were sitting on Samhain Eve. It had been a dwelling-house, and when the man that owned it had built a better one, he had put the two rooms together, and kept it for […]
Hanrahan was walking the roads one time near Kinvara at the fall of day, and he heard the sound of a fiddle from a house a little way off the roadside. He turned up the path to it, for he never had the habit of passing by any place where there was music or dancing […]
Hanrahan, that was never long in one place, was back again among the villages that are at the foot of Slieve Echtge, Illeton and Scalp and Ballylee, stopping sometimes in one house and sometimes in another, and finding a welcome in every place for the sake of the old times and of his poetry and […]
It was in the month of June Hanrahan was on the road near Sligo, but he did not go into the town, but turned towards Beinn Bulben; for there were thoughts of the old times coming upon him, and he had no mind to meet with common men. And as he walked he was singing […]
One fine May morning a long time after Hanrahan had left Margaret Rooney’s house, he was walking the road near Collooney, and the sound of the birds singing in the bushes that were white with blossom set him singing as he went. It was to his own little place he was going, that was no […]
It was travelling northward Hanrahan was one time, giving a hand to a farmer now and again in the hurried time of the year, and telling his stories and making his share of songs at wakes and at weddings. He chanced one day to overtake on the road to Collooney one Margaret Rooney, a woman […]
A very old man, whose face was almost as fleshless as the foot of a bird, sat meditating upon the rocky shore of the flat and hazel- covered isle which fills the widest part of the Lough Gill. A russet- faced boy of seventeen years sat by his side, watching the swallows dipping for flies […]
One summer night, when there was peace, a score of Puritan troopers under the pious Sir Frederick Hamilton, broke through the door of the Abbey of the White Friars which stood over the Gara Lough at Sligo. As the door fell with a crash they saw a little knot of friars, gathered about the altar, […]
O blessed and happy he, who knowing the mysteries of the gods, sanctifies his life, and purifies his soul, celebrating orgies in the mountains with holy purifications.–Euripides. I It is now more than ten years since I met, for the last time, Michael Robartes, and for the first time and the last time his friends […]
One winter evening an old knight in rusted chain-armour rode slowly along the woody southern slope of Ben Bulben, watching the sun go down in crimson clouds over the sea. His horse was tired, as after a long journey, and he had upon his helmet the crest of no neighbouring lord or king, but a […]
The High-Queen of the Island of Woods had died in childbirth, and her child was put to nurse with a woman who lived in a hut of mud and wicker, within the border of the wood. One night the woman sat rocking the cradle, and pondering over the beauty of the child, and praying that […]
A man, with thin brown hair and a pale face, half ran, half walked, along the road that wound from the south to the town of Sligo. Many called him Cumhal, the son of Cormac, and many called him the Swift, Wild Horse; and he was a gleeman, and he wore a short parti-coloured doublet, […]
At the place, close to the Dead Man’s Point, at the Rosses, where the disused pilot-house looks out to sea through two round windows like eyes, a mud cottage stood in the last century. It also was a watchhouse, for a certain old Michael Bruen, who had been a smuggler in his day, and was […]
The little wicker houses at Tullagh, where the Brothers were accustomed to pray, or bend over many handicrafts, when twilight had driven them from the fields, were empty, for the hardness of the winter had brought the brotherhood together in the little wooden house under the shadow of the wooden chapel; and Abbot Malathgeneus, Brother […]
Costello had come up from the fields and lay upon the ground before the door of his square tower, resting his head upon his hands and looking at the sunset, and considering the chances of the weather. Though the customs of Elizabeth and James, now going out of fashion in England, had begun to prevail […]
I have no happiness in dreaming of Brycelinde;Nor Avalon the grass green hollow, nor Joyous Isle,Where one found Lancelot crazed and hid him for a while,Nor Ulad when Naoise had thrown a sail upon the wind,Nor lands that seem too dim to be burdens on the heart,Land-under-Wave, where out of the moon’s light and the […]
Three Voices togetherHurry to bless the hands that play,The mouths that speak, the notes and strings,O masters of the glittering town!O! lay the shrilly trumpet down,Though drunken with the flags that swayOver the ramparts and the towers,And with the waving of your wings.First VoiceMaybe they linger by the way;One gathers up his purple gown;One leans […]
From the play of The Country of the Young. There’s many a strong farmerWhose heart would break in twoIf he could see the townlandThat we are riding to;Boughs have their fruit and blossom,At all times of the year,Rivers are running overWith red beer and brown beer.An old man plays the bagpipesIn a golden and silver […]
Maeve the great queen was pacing to and fro,Between the walls covered with beaten bronze,In her high house at Cruachan; the long hearth,Flickering with ash and hazel, but half showedWhere the tired horse-boys lay upon the rushes,Or on the benches underneath the walls,In comfortable sleep; all living sleptBut that great queen, who more than half […]
Argument. Baile and Aillinn were lovers, butAengus, the Master of Love, wishing them to behappy in his own land among the dead, told toeach a story of the other’s death, so that theirhearts were broken and they died.I hardly hear the curlew cry,Nor the grey rush when wind is high,Before my thoughts begin to runOn […]
I thought of your beauty and this arrowMade out of a wild thought is in my marrow.There’s no man may look upon her, no man,As when newly grown to be a woman,Blossom pale, she pulled down the pale blossomAt the moth hour and hid it in her bosom.This beauty’s kinder yet for a reasonI could […]
I cried when the moon was murmuring to the birds,‘Let peewit call and curlew cry where they will,I long for your merry and tender and pitiful words,For the roads are unending and there is no place to my mind.’The honey-pale moon lay low on the sleepy hillAnd I fell asleep upon lonely Echtge of streams;No […]
One that is ever kind said yesterday:‘Your well beloved’s hair has threads of greyAnd little shadows come about her eyes;Time can but make it easier to be wiseThough now it’s hard, till trouble is at an end;And so be patient, be wise and patient, friend.’But heart, there is no comfort, not a grain.Time can but […]
We sat together at one summer’s endThat beautiful mild woman your close friendAnd you and I, and talked of poetry. I said ‘a line will take us hours maybe,Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thoughtOur stitching and unstitching has been naught.Better go down upon your marrow bonesAnd scrub a kitchen pavement, or break […]
The old brown thorn trees break in two high over Cummen StrandUnder a bitter black wind that blows from the left hand,Our courage breaks like an old tree in a black wind and dies;But we have hidden in our hearts the flame out of the eyesOf Cathleen the daughter of Houlihan. The wind has bundled […]
I heard the old, old men say‘Everything alters,And one by one we drop away.’They had hands like claws, and their kneesWere twisted like the old thorn treesBy the waters.I heard the old, old men say‘All that’s beautiful drifts awayLike the waters.’
Imitated from Ronsard Dear Craoibhin Aoibhin, look into our case.When we are high and airy hundreds sayThat if we hold that flight they’ll leave the place,While those same hundreds mock another dayBecause we have made our art of common things,So bitterly, you’d dream they longed to lookAll their lives through into some drift of wings.You’ve […]
Out yonder, where the race course is,Delight makes all of the one mind,Riders upon the swift horses,The field that closes in behind:We, too, had good attendance once,Hearers and hearteners of the work;Aye, horsemen for companions,Before the merchant and the clerkBreathed on the world with timid breath.Sing on: sometime, and at some new moon,We’ll learn that […]
These are the clouds about the fallen sun,The majesty that shuts his burning eye;The weak lay hand on what the strong has done,Till that be tumbled that was lifted highAnd discord follow upon unison,And all things at one common level lie.And therefore, friend, if your great race were runAnd these things came, so much the […]
Sickness brought me thisThought, in that scale of his:Why should I be dismayedThough flame had burned the wholeWorld, as it were a coal,Now I have seen it weighedAgainst a soul?
All things can tempt me from this craft of verse:One time it was a woman’s face, or worse–The seeming needs of my fool-driven land;Now nothing but comes readier to the handThan this accustomed toil. When I was young,I had not given a penny for a songDid not the poet sing it with such airsThat one […]
I whispered, “I am too young,”And then, “I am old enough,”Wherefore I threw a pennyTo find out if I might love;“Go and love, go and love, young man,If the lady be young and fair,”Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,I am looped in the loops of her hair. Oh love is the crooked thing,There is nobody […]
I have heard the pigeons of the Seven WoodsMake their faint thunder, and the garden beesHum in the lime tree flowers; and put awayThe unavailing outcries and the old bitternessThat empty the heart. I have forgot awhileTara uprooted, and new commonnessUpon the throne and crying about the streetsAnd hanging its paper flowers from post to […]
Wine comes in at the mouthAnd love comes in at the eye;That’s all we shall know for truthBefore we grow old and die.I lift the glass to my mouth,I look at you, and I sigh.
Though leaves are many, the root is one;Through all the lying days of my youthI swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;Now I may wither into the truth.
On Hearing That the Students of Our New University Have Joined the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Agitation Against Immoral Literature. Where, where but here have Pride and Truth,That long to give themselves for wage,To shake their wicked sides at youthRestraining reckless middle-age.
Once, when midnight smote the air,Eunuchs ran through Hell and metRound about Hell’s gate, to stareAt great Juan riding by,And like these to rail and sweat,Maddened by that sinewy thigh.
To a Poet, Who Would Have Me Praise Certain Bad Poets, Imitators of His and Mine. You say, as I have often given tongueIn praise of what another’s said or sung,‘Twere politic to do the like by these;But where’s the wild dog that has praised his fleas?
How should the world be luckier if this house,Where passion and precision have been oneTime out of mind, became too ruinousTo breed the lidless eye that loves the sun?And the sweet laughing eagle thoughts that growWhere wings have memory of wings, and allThat comes of the best knit to the best? AlthoughMean roof-trees were the […]
“Put off that mask of burning goldWith emerald eyes.”“O no, my dear, you make so boldTo find if hearts be wild and wise,And yet not cold.” “I would but find what’s there to find,Love or deceit.”“It was the mask engaged your mind,And after set your heart to beat,Not what’s behind.” “But lest you are my […]
Why should I blame her that she filled my daysWith misery, or that she would of lateHave taught to ignorant men most violent ways,Or hurled the little streets upon the great,Had they but courage equal to desire?What could have made her peaceful with a mindThat nobleness made simple as a fire,With beauty like a tightened […]
“Would it were anything but merely voice!”The No King cried who after that was King,Because he had not heard of anythingThat balanced with a word is more than noise;Yet Old Romance being kind, let him prevailSomewhere or somehow that I have forgot,Though he’d but cannon–Whereas we that had thoughtTo have lit upon as clean and […]
Suddenly I saw the cold and rook delighting HeavenThat seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,And thereupon imagination and heart were drivenSo wild, that every casual thought of that and thisVanished, and left but memories, that should be out of seasonWith the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;And […]
O heart, be at peace, becauseNor knave nor dolt can breakWhat’s not for their applause,Being for a woman’s sake.Enough if the work has seemed,So did she your strength renew,A dream that a lion had dreamedTill the wilderness cried aloud,A secret between you two,Between the proud and the proud. What, still you would have their praise!But […]
The fascination of what’s difficultHas dried the sap out of my veins, and rentSpontaneous joy and natural contentOut of my heart. There’s something ails our coltThat must, as if it had not holy blood,Nor on an Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud,Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and joltAs though it dragged road metal. My […]
She lived in storm and strife.Her soul had such desireFor what proud death may bringThat it could not endureThe common good of life,But lived as ’twere a kingThat packed his marriage dayWith banneret and pennon,Trumpet and kettledrum,And the outrageous cannon,To bundle Time awayThat the night come.
If any man drew nearWhen I was young,I thought, “He holds her dear,”And shook with hate and fear.But oh, ’twas bitter wrongIf he could pass her byWith an indifferent eye. Whereon I wrote and wrought,And now, being gray,I dream that I have broughtTo such a pitch my thoughtThat coming time can say,“He shadowed in a […]
I had this thought awhile ago,“My darling cannot understandWhat I have done, or what would doIn this blind bitter land.” And I grew weary of the sunUntil my thoughts cleared up again,Remembering that the best I have doneWas done to make it plain; That every year I have cried, “At lengthMy darling understands it all,Because […]
SYNGE AND THE IRELAND OF HIS TIME BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATSWITH A NOTE CONCERNING A WALK THROUGH CONNEMARA WITH HIM BY JACK BUTLER YEATS PREFACE At times during Synge’s last illness, Lady Gregory and I would speak of his work and always find some pleasure in the thought that unlike ourselves, who had made our […]
CHARACTERS PETER GILLANE. MICHAEL GILLANE his son, going to be married. PATRICK GILLANE a lad of twelve, Michael’s brother. BRIDGET GILLANE Peter’s wife. DELIA CAHEL engaged to MICHAEL. THE POOR OLD WOMAN. NEIGHBOURS. ACT I [SCENE: Interior of a cottage close to Killala, in 1798. BRIDGET is standing at a table undoing a parcel. PETER […]
Were you but lying cold and dead,And lights were paling out of the West,You would come hither, and bend your head,And I would lay my head on your breast;And you would murmur tender words,Forgiving me, because you were dead:Nor would you rise and hasten away,Though you have the will of the wild birds,But know your […]
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,Enwrought with golden and silver light,The blue and the dim and the dark clothsOf 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.
I have drunk ale from the Country of the YoungAnd weep because I know all things now:I have been a hazel tree and they hungThe Pilot Star and the Crooked PloughAmong my leaves in times out of mind:I became a rush that horses tread:I became a man, a hater of the wind,Knowing one, out of […]
O where is our Mother of PeaceNodding her purple hood?For the winds that awakened the starsAre blowing through my blood.I would that the death-pale deerHad come through the mountain side,And trampled the mountain away,And drunk up the murmuring tide;For the winds that awakened the starsAre blowing through my blood,And our Mother of Peace has forgot […]
When the flaming lute-thronged angelic door is wide;When an immortal passion breathes in mortal clay;Our hearts endure the scourge, the plaited thorns, the wayCrowded with bitter faces, the wounds in palm and side,The hyssop-heavy sponge, the flowers by Kidron stream:We will bend down and loosen our hair over you,That it may drop faint perfume, and […]
Though you are in your shining days,Voices among the crowdAnd new friends busy with your praise,Be not unkind or proud,But think about old friends the most:Time’s bitter flood will rise,Your beauty perish and be lostFor all eyes but these eyes.
O, colleens, kneeling by your altar rails long hence,When songs I wove for my beloved hide the prayer,And smoke from this dead heart drifts through the violet airAnd covers away the smoke of myrrh and frankincense;Bend down and pray for the great sin I wove in song,Till Maurya of the wounded heart cry a sweet […]
The Powers whose name and shape no living creature knowsHave pulled the Immortal Rose;And though the Seven Lights bowed in their dance and wept,The Polar Dragon slept,His heavy rings uncoiled from glimmering deep to deep:When will he wake from sleep? Great Powers of falling wave and wind and windy fire,With your harmonious choirEncircle her I […]
Cumhal called out, bending his head,Till Dathi came and stood,With a blink in his eyes at the cave mouth,Between the wind and the wood. And Cumhal said, bending his knees,‘I have come by the windy way‘To gather the half of your blessedness‘And learn to pray when you pray. ‘I can bring you salmon out of […]
Far off, most secret, and inviolate Rose,Enfold me in my hour of hours; where thoseWho sought thee in the Holy Sepulchre,Or in the wine vat, dwell beyond the stirAnd tumult of defeated dreams; and deepAmong pale eyelids, heavy with the sleepMen have named beauty. Thy great leaves enfoldThe ancient beards, the helms of ruby and […]
Half close your eyelids, loosen your hair,And dream about the great and their pride;They have spoken against you everywhere,But weigh this song with the great and their pride;I made it out of a mouthful of air,Their children’s children shall say they have lied.
I dreamed that I stood in a valley, and amid sighs,For happy lovers passed two by two where I stood;And I dreamed my lost love came stealthily out of the woodWith her cloud-pale eyelids falling on dream-dimmed eyes:I cried in my dream ‘ O women bid the young men lay ‘Their heads on your knees, […]
I wander by the edgeOf this desolate lakeWhere wind cries in the sedgeUntil the axle break That keeps the stars in their round And hands hurl in the deep The banners of East and West And the girdle of light is unbound, Your breast will not lie by the breast Of your beloved in sleep.
O cloud-pale eyelids, dream-dimmed eyesThe poets labouring all their daysTo build a perfect beauty in rhymeAre overthrown by a woman’s gazeAnd by the unlabouring brood of the skies:And therefore my heart will bow, when dewIs dropping sleep, until God burn time,Before the unlabouring stars and you.
If this importunate heart trouble your peaceWith words lighter than air,Or hopes that in mere hoping flicker and cease;Crumple the rose in your hair;And cover your lips with odorous twilight and say,‘O Hearts of wind-blown flame!‘O Winds, elder than changing of night and day,‘That murmuring and longing came,‘From marble cities loud with tabors of old‘In […]
The dews drop slowly and dreams gather: unknown spearsSuddenly hurtle before my dream-awakened eyes,And then the clash of fallen horsemen and the criesOf unknown perishing armies beat about my ears.We who still labour by the cromlec on the shore,The grey cairn on the hill, when day sinks drowned in dew,Being weary of the world’s empires, […]
Be you still, be you still, trembling heart;Remember the wisdom out of the old days:Him who trembles before the flame and the flood, And the winds that blow through the starry ways, Let the starry winds and the flame and the flood Cover over and hide, for he has no part With the proud, majestical […]
The jester walked in the garden:The garden had fallen still;He bade his soul rise upwardAnd stand on her window-sill. It rose in a straight blue garment,When owls began to call:It had grown wise-tongued by thinkingOf a quiet and light footfall; But the young queen would not listen;She rose in her pale night gown;She drew in […]
PROLOGUE MY DEAR “MAURICE”–You will remember that afternoon in Calvados last summer when your black Persian “Minoulooshe,” who had walked behind us for a good mile, heard a wing flutter in a bramble-bush? For a long time we called her endearing names in vain. She seemed resolute to spend her night among the brambles. She […]