Earth in beauty dressed
Awaits returning spring.
All true love must die,
Alter at the best
Into some lesser thing.
Prove that I lie.
A pity beyond all telling is hid in the heart of love.
We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.
I had this thought a while ago,
"My darling cannot understand
What I have done, or what would do
In this blind bitter land."
And I grew weary of the sun.
All through the years of our youth
Neither could have known
Their own thought from the other's,
We were so much at one.
Time drops in decay Like a candle burnt out. And the mountains and woods Have their day, have their day; But, kindly old rout Of the fire-born moods, You pass not away.
Imagining in excited reverie That the future years had come, Dancing to a frenzied drum, Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.
I have no question: It is enough, I know what fixed the station Of star and cloud. And knowing all, I cry..
Everything that man esteems Endures a moment or a day.
For to articulate sweet sounds together Is to work harder than all these, and yet Be thought an idler by the noisy set Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen The martyrs call the world.
I have grown to believe that there is no dangerous idea, which does not become less dangerous when written out in sincere and careful English.
We have fallen in the dreams the ever-living Breathe on the tarnished mirror of the world, And then smooth out with ivory hands and sigh.
Now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Man has created death.
Talent perceives differences; genius, unity.
Too many things are occurring for even a big heart to hold.
If soul my look and body touch, Which is the more blest?
I think you can leave the arts, superior or inferior, to the conscience of mankind.
We had fed the heart on fantasies, The heart's grown brutal from the fare, More substance in our enmities Than in our love.
All that could run or leap or swim
Whether in wood, water or cloud,
Acclaiming, proclaiming, declaiming Him.
All dreams of the soul
End in a beautiful man's or woman's body.
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 wood
With her cloud-pale eyelids falling on dream-dimmed eyes.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Some moralist or mythological poet
Compares the solitary soul to a swan;
I am satisfied with that,
Satisfied if a troubled mirror show it,
Before that brief gleam of its life be gone.
Hearts with one purpose alone Through summer and winter seem Enchanted to a stone To trouble the living stream.
Once you attempt legislation upon religious grounds, you open the way for every kind of intolerance and religious persecution.
While they danced they came over them the weariness with the world, the melancholy, the pity one for the other, which is the exultation of love.
A line will take us hours maybe; Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought, our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
I know that I shall meet my fate somewhere among the clouds above; those that I fight I do not hate, those that I guard I do not love.
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make.
The soul of man is of the imperishable substance of the stars!
There where the course is,
Delight makes all of the one mind,
The riders upon the galloping horses,
The crowd that closes in behind.
My curse on plays
That have to be set up in fifty ways,
On the day's war with every knave and dolt,
Theater business, management of men.
O heart, be at peace, because
Nor knave nor dolt can break
What's not for their applause,
Being for a woman's sake.
There are a few of the open-air spirits; the more domestic of their tribe gather within-doors, plentiful as swallows under southern eaves.
His element is so fine
Being sharpened by his death,
To drink from the wine-breath
While our gross palates drink from the whole wine.
Let the new faces play what tricks they will
In the old rooms; night can outbalance day,
Our shadows rove the garden gravel still,
The living seem more shadowy than they.
Accursed who brings to light of day the writings I have cast away.
For how can you compete Being honour bred, with one Who, were it proved he lies, Were neither shamed in his own Nor in his neighbour's eyes?
I cast my heart into my rhymes,
That you, in the dim coming times,
May know how my heart went with them
After the red-rose-bordered hem.
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
Great Powers of falling wave and wind and windy fire,
With your harmonious choir
Encircle her I love and sing her into peace,
That my old care may cease.
Irish poets, learn your trade, sing whatever is well made, scorn the sort now growing up all out of shape from toe to top.
The creations of a great writer are little more than the moods and passions of his own heart, given surnames and Christian names, and sent to walk the earth.
Nothing in them but tittering jeering emptiness.
Those that I fight I do not hate, those that I guard I do not love.
Because this age and the next age
Engender in the ditch,
No man can know a happy man
From any passing wretch,
If Folly link with Elegance
No man knows which is which.
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?
The true poet is all the time a visionary and whether with friends or not, as much alone as a man on his death bed.
All the wild-witches, those most notable ladies For all their broom-sticks and their tears, Their angry tears, are gone.
Test every work of intellect or faith and everything that your own hands have wrought.
Test every work of intellect or faith, And everything that your own hands have wrought And call those works extravagance of breath That are not suited for such men as come Proud, open-eyed and laughing to the tomb.
People are responsible for their opinions, but Providence is responsible for their morals.
It's certain there are trout somewhere -- And maybe I shall take a trout -- but I do not seem to care.
There's keen delight in what we have:
The rattle of pebbles on the shore
Under the receding wave.
O what fine thought we had because we thought that the worst rogues and rascals had died out.
I thought it out this very day,
Noon upon the clock,
A man may put pretence away
Who leans upon a stick,
May sing, and sing until he drop,
Whether to maid or hag.
For he would be thinking of love Till the stars had run away And the shadows eaten the moon.
Even the wisest man grows tense
With some sort of violence
Before he can accomplish fate,
Know his work or choose his mate.
Poet and sculptor, do the work,
Nor let the modish painter shirk.
Shakespeare cared little for the State, the source of all our judgments, apart from its shows and splendours, its turmoils and battles, its flamings out of the uncivilized heart.
Florence Farr once said to me, If we could say to ourselves, with sincerity, 'this passing moment is as good as any I shall ever know,' we could die upon the instant and be united with God.
Death and life were not
Till man made up the whole,
Made lock, stock and barrel
Out of his bitter soul.
I call on those that call me son, Grandson, or great-grandson, On uncles, aunts, great-uncles or great-aunts, To judge what I have done. Have I, that put it into words, Spoilt what old loins have sent?
The falcon cannot hear the falconer.
Now must we sing and sing the best we can,
But first you must be told your character:
Convicted cowards all, by kindred slain.
And a softness came from the starlight and filled me full to the bone.
I know of the leafy paths that the witches take
Who come with their crowns of pearl and their spindles of wool,
And their secret smile, out of the depths of the lake.
He Who is wrapped in purple robes,
With planets in His care,
Had pity on the least of things
Asleep upon a chair.
Land of Heart's Desire Where beauty has no ebb, decay no flood, But joy is wisdom, time an endless song.
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.
It's certain that fine women eat A crazy salad with their meat.
What can I but enumerate old themes?
Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.
I am content to live it all again And yet again, if it be life to pitch Into the frog-spawn of a blind man's ditch.
Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing.
I always think a great speaker convinces us not by force of reasoning, but because he is visibly enjoying the beliefs he wants us to accept.
So great a sweetness flows into the breast We must laugh and we must sing, We are blessed by everything, Everything we look upon is blest.
The hare grows old as she plays in the sun
And gazes around her with eyes of brightness;
Before the swift things that she dreamed of were done
She limps along in an aged whiteness.
On limestone quarried near the spot By his command these words are cut: Cast a cold eye On life, on death. Horseman, pass by!
When you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.
I have known more men destroyed by the desire to have wife and child and to keep them in comfort than I have seen destroyed by drink and harlots.
And God, the herdsman, goads them on behind.
How far away the stars seem, and how far is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart.
The Irishman sustains himself during brief periods of joy by the knowledge that tragedy is just around the corner.
You know what the Englishman's idea of compromise is? He says, Some people say there is a God. Some people say there is no God. The truth probably lies somewhere between these two statements.
It was my first meeting with a philosophy that confirmed my vague speculations and seemed at once logical and boundless.
Cast a cold eye on life, on death Horseman pass by.
The true faith discovered was When painted panel, statuary, Glass-mosaic, window-glass, Amended what was told awry By some peasant gospeler.
My temptation is quiet. Here at life's end Neither loose imagination Nor the mill of the mind Consuming its rag and bone, Can make the truth known.
I am still of opinion that only two topics can be of the least interest to a serious and studious mood -- sex and the dead.
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.
It is most important that we should keep in this country a certain leisured class. I am of the opinion of the ancient Jewish book which says there is no wisdom without leisure.
How can I, that girl standing there, My attention fix On Roman or on Russian Or on Spanish politics?
How can I, that girl standing there, My attention fix On Roman or on Russian Or on Spanish politics? Yet here's a travelled man that knows What he talks about, And there's a politician That has read and thought, And maybe what they say is true Of war and war's alarms, But O that I were young again And held her in my arms!
Who dreamed that beauty passes like a dream?
For these red lips, with all their mournful pride,
Mournful that no new wonder may betide,
Troy passed away in one high funeral gleam,
And Usna's children died.
An intellectual hatred is the worst, So let her think opinions are accursed. Have I not seen the loveliest woman born Out of the mouth of Plenty's horn, Because of her opinionated mind Barter that horn and every good By quiet natures understood For an old bellows full of angry wind?
Fairies in Ireland are sometimes as big as we are, sometimes bigger, and sometimes, as I have been told, about three feet high.
The brawling of a sparrow in the eaves The brilliant moon and all the milky sky And all that famous harmony of leaves Had blotted out man's image and his cry.
Bid imagination run Much on the Great Questioner; What He can question, what if questioned I Can with a fitting confidence reply.
Out-worn heart, in a time out-worn,
Come clear of the nets of wrong and right;
Laugh, heart, again in the grey twilight,
Sigh, heart, again in the dew of the morn.
When an immortal passion breathes in mortal clay;
Our hearts endure the scourge, the plaited thorns, the way
Crowded with bitter faces, the wounds in palm and side,
The vinegar-heavy sponge, the flowers by Kedron stream.
One should say before sleeping: I have lived many lives. I have been a slave and a prince. Many a beloved has sat upon my knee and I have sat upon the knees of many a beloved. Everything that has been shall be again.
Is it not certain that the Creator yawns in earthquake and thunder and other popular displays, but toils in rounding the delicate spiral of a shell? -Yeats, The Trembling of the Veil.
Poetry and music I have banished,
But the stupidity
Of root, shoot, blossom or clay
Makes no demand.
I bend my body to the spade
Or grope with a dirty hand.
No man has ever lived that had enough of children's gratitude or woman's love.
Why, what could she have done, being what she is? Was there another Troy for her to burn?
Time can but make her beauty over again.
In mockery I have set
A powerful emblem up,
And sing it rhyme upon rhyme
In mockery of a time
Half dead at the top.
O sweet everlasting Voices, be still;
Go to the guards of the heavenly fold
And bid them wander obeying your will,
Flame under flame, till Time be no more.
I am of a healthy long lived race, and our minds improve with age.
Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned.
The Danaan children laugh, in cradles of wrought gold,
And clap their hands together, and half close their eyes,
For they will ride the North when the ger-eagle flies,
With heavy whitening wings, and a heart fallen cold.
It is one of the great troubles of life that we cannot have any unmixed emotions. There is always something in our enemy that we like, and something in our sweetheart that we dislike.
I have read somewhere that in the Emperor's palace at Byzantium was a tree made of gold and silver, and artificial birds that sang.
The unpurged images of day recede; The Emperor's drunken soldiery are abed; Night resonance recedes, night-walkers' song After great cathedral gong.
While Michael Angelo's Sistine roof,
His "Morning" and his "Night" disclose
How sinew that has been pulled tight,
Or it may be loosened in repose,
Can rule by supernatural right
Yet be but sinew.
Cast your mind on other days that we in coming days may be still the indomitable Irishry.
I balanced all, brought all to mind, the years to come seemed waste of breath, a waste of breath the years behind, in balance with this life, this death.
Art bids us touch and taste and hear and see the world, and shrinks from what Blake calls mathematic form, from every abstract form, from all that is of the brain only.
Rose of all Roses, Rose of all the World!
You, too, have come where the dim tides are hurled.
Upon the wharves of sorrow, and heard ring
The bell that calls us on; the sweet far thing.
The tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul.
Only God, my dear, Could love you for yourself alone And not your yellow hair.
What if the Church and the State
Are the mob that howls at the door!
Wine shall run thick to the end,
Bread taste sour.
Shakespearean fish swam the sea, far away from land; Romantic fish swam in nets coming to the hand.
I heard the old, old, men say 'all that's beautiful drifts away, like the waters.'
Nor dread nor hope attend
A dying animal;
A man awaits his end
Dreading and hoping all.
It is love that I am seeking for, But of a beautiful, unheard-of kind That is not in the world.
Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.
Man runs his course;
A brand, or flaming breath,
Comes to destroy
All those antinomies
Of day and night.
All empty souls tend toward extreme opinions.
The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time.
O heart! O heart! if she'd but turn her head You'd know the folly of being comforted.
A statesman is an easy man, he tells his lies by rote.
A journalist invents his lies, and rams them down your throat.
So stay at home and drink your beer and let the neighbors vote.
Every conquering temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.
The pain others give passes away in their later kindness, but that of our own blunders, especially when they hurt our vanity, never passes away.
Grant me an old man's frenzy, Myself must I remake Till I am Timon and Lear Or that William Blake Who beat upon the wall Till Truth obeyed his call.
Do you not hear me calling, white deer with no horns?
I have been changed to a hound with one red ear;
I have been in the Path of Stones and the Wood of Thorns.
One man loved the pilgrim soul in you and loved the sorrows of your changing face.
Mock mockers after that That would not lift a hand maybe To help good, wise or great To bar that foul storm out, for we Traffic in mockery.
And the merry love the fiddle, and the merry love to dance.
Those men that in their writings are most wise
Own nothing but their blind, stupefied hearts.
I, too, await
The hour of thy great wind of love and hate.
When shall the stars be blown about the sky,
Like the sparks blown out of a smithy, and die?
When Walt Whitman writes in seeming defiance of tradition, he needs tradition for his protection, for the butcher and the baker and the candlestick-maker grow merry over him when they meet his work by chance.
Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams, Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round.
Come near; I would, before my time to go,
Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.
I have nothing but the embittered sun;
Banished heroic mother moon and vanished,
And now that I have come to fifty years
I must endure the timid sun.
Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again!
The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on.
I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember.
I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all like an opera.
The winds that awakened the stars Are blowing through my blood.
Man can embody truth but he cannot know it.
We poets would die of loneliness but for women, and we choose our men friends that we may have somebody to talk about women with. Letter to Olivia Shakespeare, 1936.
Now that my ladder's gone, I must lie down where all my ladders start, In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.
I have heard that hysterical women say
They are sick of the palette and fiddle-bow,
Of poets that are always gay.
O heart, we are old;
The living beauty is for younger men:
We cannot pay its tribute of wild tears.
The light of lights looks always on the motive, not the deed, the shadow of shadows on the deed alone.
Chaunt in his ear delusions magical,
That he may fight the horses of the sea.
The Druids took them to their mystery,
And chaunted for three days.
Even when the poet seems most himself ... he is never the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast; he has been reborn as an idea, something intended, complete.
And wisdom is a butterfly
And not a gloomy bird of prey.
I carry from my mother's womb a fanatic's heart.
So long as all is ordered for attack, and that alone, leaders will instinctively increase the number of enemies that they may give their followers something to do.
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.
I rise in the dawn, and I kneel and blow
Till the seed of the fire flicker and glow;
And then I must scrub and bake and sweep
Till the stars are beginning to blink and peep;
And the young lie long and dream in their bed.
Out of Ireland have we come, great hatred, little room, maimed us at the start. I carry from my mother's womb a fanatic heart.
A drunkard is a dead man
And all dead men are drunk.
The common breeds the common,
A lout begets a lout,
So when I take on half a score
I knock their heads about.
The mystical life is at the centre of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write.
Teaching is not filling up a pail, it is lighting a fire.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight, Nor public men, nor cheering crowds, A lonely impulse of delight Drove to this tumult in the clouds.
Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet's wings.
Time can but make it easier to be wise Though now it seems impossible, and so All that you need is patience.
Why should we honour those that die upon the field of battle? A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.
How but in custom and in ceremony are innocence and beauty born?
There is another world, but it is in this one.
Where the world ends
The mind is made unchanging, for it finds
Miracle, ecstasy, the impossible hope,
The flagstone under all, the fire of fires,
The roots of the world.
The Father and His angelic hierarchy
That made the magnitude and glory there
Stood in the circuit of a needle's eye.
An aged man is but a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick.
An aged man is but a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick, unless soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing for every tatter in its mortal dress.
He only can create the greatest imaginable beauty who has endured all imaginable pangs, for only when we have seen and foreseen what we dread shall we be rewarded by that dazzling unforeseen wing-footed wanderer.
Somewhere beyond the curtain Of distorting days Lives that lonely thing That shone before these eyes Targeted, trod like Spring.
I have found nothing half so good As my long-planned half solitude, Where I can sit up half the night With some friend that has the wit.
Though leaves are many, the root is one; Through all the lying days of my youth I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun Now I may wither into the truth.
Think where mans glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.
My father upon the Abbey stage, before him a raging crowd.
"This Land of Saints," and then as the applause died out,
"Of plaster Saints;" his beautiful mischievous head thrown back.
Overcome the Empyrean; hurl
Heaven and Earth out of their places,
That in the same calamity
Brother and brother, friend and friend,
Family and family,
City and city may contend.
Literature is always personal, always one man's vision of the world, one man's experience, and it can only be popular when men are ready to welcome the visions of others.
When I play on my fiddle in Dooney
Folk dance like a wave on the sea.
Ecstasy is from the contemplation of things vaster than the individual and imperfectly seen perhaps, by all those that still live.
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
Though logic-choppers rule the town,
And every man and maid and boy
Has marked a distant object down,
An aimless joy is a pure joy.
Both nuns and mothers worship images,
But those the candles light are not as those
That animate a mother's reveries,
But keep a marble or a bronze repose.
To be born woman is to know -- although they do not speak of it at school -- women must labor to be beautiful.
What made us dream that he could comb gray hair?
I thought no more was needed
Youth to prolong
Than dumb-bell and foil
To keep the body young.
O who could have foretold
That the heart grows old?
Somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
Although our love is waning, let us stand by the lone border of the lake once more, together in that hour of gentleness. When the poor tired child, passion, falls asleep.
The problem with some people is that when they aren't drunk, they're sober.
What shall I do for pretty girls Now my old bawd is dead?
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
O cloud-pale eyelids, dream-dimmed eyes,
The poets labouring all their days
To build a perfect beauty in rhyme
Are overthrown by a woman's gaze.
An old man's eagle mind.
Come near, that no more blinded by man's fate, I find under the boughs of love and hate, In all poor foolish things that live a day, Eternal beauty wandering on her way.
I think it better that in times like these a poet's mouth be silent, for in truth we have no gift to set a statesman right.
It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.
The fascination of what's difficult Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent Spontaneous joy and natural content Out of my heart.
Swift has sailed into his rest; Savage indignation there Cannot lacerate his breast Imitate him if you dare, World-besotted traveler; he Served human liberty.
One had a lovely face,
And two or three had charm,
But charm and face were in vain.
Because the mountain grass
Cannot keep the form
Where the mountain hare has lain.
True love is a discipline in which each divines the secret self of the other and refuses to believe in the mere daily self.
Only an aching heart
Conceives a changeless work of art.
And pluck till time and times are done the silver apples of the moon the golden apples of the sun.
We are happy when for everything inside us there is a corresponding something outside us.
But was there ever dog that praised his fleas?