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The Stolen Child

    WHERE dips the rocky highland
    Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
    There lies a leafy island
    Where flapping herons wake
    The drowsy water rats;
    There we've hid our faery vats,
    Full of berrys
    And of reddest stolen cherries.
    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.

    Where the wave of moonlight glosses
    The dim gray sands with light,
    Far off by furthest Rosses
    We foot it all the night,
    Weaving olden dances
    Mingling hands and mingling glances
    Till the moon has taken flight;
    To and fro we leap
    And chase the frothy bubbles,
    While the world is full of troubles
    And anxious in its sleep.
    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.

    Where the wandering water gushes
    From the hills above Glen-Car,
    In pools among the rushes
    That scare could bathe a star,
    We seek for slumbering trout
    And whispering in their ears
    Give them unquiet dreams;
    Leaning softly out
    From ferns that drop their tears
    Over the young streams.
    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.

    Away with us he's going,
    The solemn-eyed:
    He'll hear no more the lowing
    Of the calves on the warm hillside
    Or the kettle on the hob
    Sing peace into his breast,
    Or see the brown mice bob
    Round and round the oatmeal chest.
    For he comes, the human child,
    To the waters and the wild
    With a faery, hand in hand,
    For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

    William Butler Yeats

The Falling of the Leaves

    AUTUMN is over the long leaves that love us,
    And over the mice in the barley sheaves;
    Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us,
    And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.

    The hour of the waning of love has beset us,
    And weary and worn are our sad souls now;
    Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us,
    With a kiss and a tear on thy drooping brow.

    William Butler Yeats

Down by the Salley Gardens

    DOWN by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
    She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
    She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
    But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.
    In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
    And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
    She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
    But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

    William Butler Yeats

The Rose of the World

    WHO dreamed that beauty passes like a dream?
    For those 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.

    We and the labouring world are passing by:
    Amid men's souls, that waver and give place
    Like the pale waters in their wintry race,
    Under the passing stars, foam of the sky,
    Lives on this lonely face.

    Bow down, archangels, in your dim abode:
    Before you were, or any hearts to beat,
    Weary and kind one lingered by His seat;
    He made the world to be a grassy road
    Before her wandering feet.

    William Butler Yeats

A Cradle Song

    THE angels are stooping
    Above your bed;
    They weary of trooping
    With the whimpering dead.

    God's laughing in Heaven
    To see you so good;
    The Sailing Seven
    Are gay with his mood.

    I sigh that kiss you,
    For I must own
    That I shall miss you
    When you have grown.

    William Butler Yeats

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

    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 honeybee,
    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 evenings full of the linnet's wings.

    I will arise and go now, for always night and day
    I hear the 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

When You Are Old

    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;

    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;

    And bending down beside the glowing bars,
    Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
    And paced among the mountains overhead
    And hid his face among a crowd of stars.

    William Butler Yeats

The Sorrow of Love

    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.

    A girl arose that had red mournful lips
    And seemed the greatness of the world in tears,
    Doomed like Odysseus and the labouring ships
    And proud as Priam murdered with his peers;

    Arose, and on the instant clamorous eaves,
    A climbing moon upon an empty sky,
    And all that lamentation of the leaves,
    Could but compose man's image and his cry.

    William Butler Yeats

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

    HAD I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
    Enwrought with the golden and silver light,
    The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
    Of night and light and half-light,
    I would spread the cloths under your feet
    But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
    I have spread my dreams beneath your feet;
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams...

    William Butler Yeats

The Song of the Old Mother

    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 stars are beginning to blink and peep;
    But the young lie long and dream in their bed
    Of the matching of ribbons, the blue and the red,
    And their day goes over in idleness,
    And they sigh if the wind but lift up a tress.
    While I must work, because I am old
    And the seed of the fire gets feeble and cold.

    William Butler Yeats

The Song of Wandering Aengus

    I WENT out to the hazel wood,
    Because 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 Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water

    I HEARD the old, old men say,
    "Everything alters,
    And one by one we drop away."
    They had hands like claws, and their knees
    Were twisted like the old thorn trees
    By the waters.
    I heard the old, old men say,
    "All that's beautiful drifts away
    Like the waters."

    William Butler Yeats

No Second Troy

    WHY should I blame her that she filled my days
    With misery, or that she would of late
    Have 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 mind
    That nobleness made simple as a fire,
    With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
    That is not natural in an age like this,
    Being high and solitary and most stern?
    Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
    Was there another Troy for her to burn?

    William Butler Yeats

Brown Penny

    I WHISPERED, 'I am too young.'
    And then, 'I am old enough';
    Wherefore I threw a penny
    To 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.

    O love is the crooked thing,
    There is nobody wise enough
    To find out all that is in it,
    For he would be thinking of love
    Till the stars had run away
    And the shadows eaten the moon.
    Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
    One cannot begin it too soon.

    William Butler Yeats

A Drinking Song

    WINE comes in at the mouth
    And love comes in at the eye;
    That's all we shall know for truth
    Before we grow old and die.
    I lift the glass to my mouth,
    I look at you, and sigh.

    William Butler Yeats

The Wild Swans at Coole

    THE trees are in their autumn beauty,
    The woodland paths are dry,
    Under the October twilight the water
    Mirrors a still sky;
    Upon the brimming water among the stones
    Are nine-and-fifty Swans.

    The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
    Since I first made my count;
    I saw, before I had well finished,
    All suddenly mount
    And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
    Upon their clamorous wings.

    I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
    And now my heart is sore.
    All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
    The first time on this shore,
    The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
    Trod with a lighter tread.

    Unwearied still, lover by lover,
    They paddle in the cold
    Companionable streams or climb the air;
    Their hearts have not grown old;
    Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
    Attend upon them still.

    But now they drift on the still water,
    Mysterious, beautiful;
    Among what rushes will they build,
    By what lake's edge or pool
    Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
    To find they have flown away?

    William Butler Yeats

An Irish Airman Forsees His Death

    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;
    My country is Kiltartan Cross,
    My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
    No likely end could bring them loss
    Or leave them happier than before.
    Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
    Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
    A lonely impulse of delight
    Drove to this tummult in the clouds;
    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.

    William Butler Yeats

The Scholars

    BALD heads forgetful of their sins,
    Old, learned, respectable bald heads
    Edit and annotate the lines
    That young men, tossing on their beds,
    Rhumed out in love's despair
    To flatter beauty's ignorant ear.

    All shuffle there, all cough in ink;
    All wear the carpet with their shoes;
    All think what other people think;
    All know the man their neighbor knows.
    Lord, what would they say
    Did their Catullus walk that way?

    William Butler Yeats


    ONE had a lovely face,
    And two or three had charm,
    But charm and face were in vain
    Because the mountain grass
    Cannot but keep the form
    Where the mountain hare has lain.

    William Butler Yeats

Men Improve with the Years

    I AM worn out with dreams;
    A weather-worn, marble triton
    Among the streams;
    And all day long I look
    Upon this lady's beauty
    As though I had found in a book
    A pictured beauty,
    Pleased to have filled the eyes
    Or the discerning ears,
    Delighted to be but wise,
    For men improve with the years;
    And yet, and yet,
    Is this my dream, or the truth?
    O would that we had met
    When I had my burning youth!
    But I grow old among dreams,
    A weather-worn, marble triton
    Among the streams.

    William Butler Yeats

Broken Dreams

    THERE is grey in your hair,
    Young men no longer suddenly catch their breath
    When you are passing;
    But maybe some old gaffer mutters a blessing
    Because it was your prayer
    Recovered him upon the bed of death.
    For your sole sake--that all heart's ache have known,
    And given to others all heart's ache,
    From meager girlhood's putting on
    Burdensome beauty--for your sole sake
    Heaven has put away the stroke of her doom,
    So great her portion in that peace you make
    By merely walking in a room.

    Your beauty can but leave among us
    Vague memories, nothing but memories.
    A young man when the old men are done talking
    Will say to an old man, 'Tell me of that lady
    The poet stubborn with his passion sang us
    When age might well have chilled his blood.'

    Vague memories, nothing but memories,
    But in the grave all, all, shall be renewed.
    The certainty that I shall see that lady
    Leaning or standing or walking
    In the first loveliness of womanhood,
    And with the fervour of my youthful eyes,
    Has set me muttering like a fool.

    You are more beautiful than any one,
    And yet your body had a flaw:
    Your small hands were not beautiful,
    And I am afraid that you will run
    And paddle to the wrist
    In that mysterious, always brimming lake
    Where those that have obeyed the holy law
    Paddle and are perfect. Leave unchanged
    The hands that I have kissed,
    For old sake's sake.

    The last stroke of midnight dies.
    All day in the one chair
    From dream to dream and rhyme to rhyme I have ranged
    In rambling talk with an image of air:
    Vague memories, nothing but memories.

    William Butler Yeats

Two Songs of a Fool


    A SPECKLED cat and a tame hare
    Eat at my hearthstone
    And seep there;
    And both look up to me alone
    For learning and defence
    As I look up to Providence.

    I start out of my sleep to think
    Some day I may forget
    Their food and drink;
    Or, the house door left unshut,
    The hare may run till it's found
    The horn's sweet note and the tooth of the hound.

    I bear a burden that might well try
    Men that do all by rule,
    And what can I
    That am a wandering-witted fool
    But pray to God that He ease
    My great responsibilities?


    I SLEPT on my three-leged stool by the fire,
    The speckled cat slept on my knee;
    We never thought to enquire
    Where the brown hare might be,
    And whether the door were shut.
    Who knows how she drank the wind
    Stretched up on two legs from the mat,
    Before she had settled her mind
    To drum with her heel and to leap?
    Had I but awakened from sleep
    And called her name, she had heard,
    It may be, and not have stirred,
    That now, it may be, has found
    The horn's sweet note and the tooth of the hound.

    William Butler Yeats

The Second Coming

    TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: 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.
    The darkness drops again; but 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?

    William Butler Yeats

To a Child Dancing in the Wind

    DANCE there upon the shore;
    What need have you to care
    For wind or water's roar?
    And tumble out your hair
    That the salt drops have wet;
    Being young you have not known
    The fool's triumph, nor yet
    Love lost as soon as won,
    Nor the best labourer dead
    And all the sheaves to bind.
    What need have you to dread
    The monstrous crying of wind?

    William Butler Yeats

Two Years Later

    HAS no one said those daring
    Kind eyes should be more learn'd?
    Or warned you how despairing
    The moths are when they are burned?
    I could have warned you, but you are young,
    So we speak a different tongue.

    O you will take whatever's offered
    And dream that all the world's a friend.
    Suffer as your mother suffered,
    Be as broken in the end.
    But I am old and you are young,
    And I speak a barbarous tongue.

    William Butler Yeats

Fallen Majesty

    ALTHOUGH crowds gathered once if she but showed her face,
    And even old men's eyes grew dim, this hand alone,
    Like some last courtier at a gypsy camping-place
    Babbling of fallen majesty, records what's gone.

    The lineaments, a heart that laughter has made sweet,
    These, these remain, but I record what's gone. A crowd
    Will gather, and not know it walks the very street
    Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud.

    William Butler Yeats

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