Top 20 Most Popular Poems of William Butler Yeats

These are the top twenty (20) most popular poems of William Butler Yeats.

From The Four Ages of Man to A Faery Song.

If you want to know his greatest poems of all time, then this poetry collection is for you.

Keep reading!.

The Four Ages Of Man


He with body waged a fight,
But body won; it walks upright.
Then he struggled with the heart;
Innocence and peace depart.
Then he struggled with the mind;
His proud heart he left behind.
Now his wars on God begin;
At stroke of midnight God shall win.

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 I sigh.

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 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

A Cradle Song


The Danann 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:
I kiss my wailing child and press it to my breast,
And hear the narrow graves calling my child and me.
Desolate winds that cry over the wandering sea;
Desolate winds that hover in the flaming West;
Desolate winds that beat the doors of Heaven, and beat
The doors of Hell and blow there many a whimpering ghost;
O heart the winds have shaken; the unappeasable host
Is comelier than candles before Maurya’s feet.

William Butler Yeats

He And She


As the moon sidles up
Must she sidle up,
As trips the scared moon
Away must she trip:
“His light had struck me blind
Dared I stop’.
She sings as the moon sings:
“I am I, am I;
The greater grows my light
The further that I fly’.
All creation shivers
With that sweet cry

William Butler Yeats

A Needle’s Eye


All the stream that’s roaring by
Came out of a needle’s eye;
Things unborn, things that are gone,
From needle’s eye still goad it on.

William Butler Yeats

A Dream Of Death


I Dreamed that one had died in a strange place
Near no accustomed hand,
And they had nailed the boards above her face,
The peasants of that land,
Wondering to lay her in that solitude,
And raised above her mound
A cross they had made out of two bits of wood,
And planted cypress round;
And left her to the indifferent stars above
Until I carved these words:
I(She was more beautiful than thy first love,)
I(But now lies under boards.)

William Butler Yeats

Sailing To Byzantium


I
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
–Those dying generations–at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.


II
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,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.


III
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.


IV
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

William Butler Yeats

A Woman Young And Old


I
FATHER AND CHILD
She hears me strike the board and say
That she is under ban
Of all good men and women,
Being mentioned with a man
That has the worst of all bad names;
And thereupon replies
That his hair is beautiful,
Cold as the March wind his eyes.


II
BEFORE THE WORLD WAS MADE
IF I make the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And the lips more scarlet,
Or ask if all be right
From mirror after mirror,
No vanity’s displayed:
I’m looking for the face I had
Before the world was made.
What if I look upon a man
As though on my beloved,
And my blood be cold the while
And my heart unmoved?
Why should he think me cruel
Or that he is betrayed?
I’d have him love the thing that was
Before the world was made.


III
A FIRST CONFESSION
I ADMIT the briar
Entangled in my hair
Did not injure me;
My blenching and trembling,
Nothing but dissembling,
Nothing but coquetry.
I long for truth, and yet
I cannot stay from that
My better self disowns,
For a man’s attention
Brings such satisfaction
To the craving in my bones.
Brightness that I pull back
From the Zodiac,
Why those questioning eyes
That are fixed upon me?
What can they do but shun me
If empty night replies?


IV
HER TRIUMPH
I DID the dragon’s will until you came
Because I had fancied love a casual
Improvisation, or a settled game
That followed if I let the kerchief fall:
Those deeds were best that gave the minute wings
And heavenly music if they gave it wit;
And then you stood among the dragon-rings.
I mocked, being crazy, but you mastered it
And broke the chain and set my ankles free,
Saint George or else a pagan Perseus;
And now we stare astonished at the sea,
And a miraculous strange bird shrieks at us.


V
CONSOLATION
O BUT there is wisdom
In what the sages said;
But stretch that body for a while
And lay down that head
Till I have told the sages
Where man is comforted.
How could passion run so deep
Had I never thought
That the crime of being born
Blackens all our lot?
But where the crime’s committed
The crime can be forgot.


VI
CHOSEN
THE lot of love is chosen. I learnt that much
Struggling for an image on the track
Of the whirling Zodiac.
Scarce did he my body touch,
Scarce sank he from the west
Or found a subtetranean rest
On the maternal midnight of my breast
Before I had marked him on his northern way,
And seemed to stand although in bed I lay.
I struggled with the horror of daybreak,
I chose it for my lot! If questioned on
My utmost pleasure with a man
By some new-married bride, I take
That stillness for a theme
Where his heart my heart did seem
And both adrift on the miraculous stream
Where — wrote a learned astrologer —
The Zodiac is changed into a sphere.


VII
PARTING
i{He.} Dear, I must be gone
While night Shuts the eyes
Of the household spies;
That song announces dawn.
i{She.} No, night’s bird and love’s
Bids all true lovers rest,
While his loud song reproves
The murderous stealth of day.
i{He.} Daylight already flies
From mountain crest to crest
i{She.} That light is from the moom.
i{He.} That bird…
i{She.} Let him sing on,
I offer to love’s play
My dark declivities.


VIII
HER VISION IN THE WOOD
DRY timber under that rich foliage,
At wine-dark midnight in the sacred wood,
Too old for a man’s love I stood in rage
Imagining men. Imagining that I could
A greater with a lesser pang assuage
Or but to find if withered vein ran blood,
I tore my body that its wine might cover
Whatever could rccall the lip of lover.
And after that I held my fingers up,
Stared at the wine-dark nail, or dark that ran
Down every withered finger from the top;
But the dark changed to red, and torches shone,
And deafening music shook the leaves; a troop
Shouldered a litter with a wounded man,
Or smote upon the string and to the sound
Sang of the beast that gave the fatal wound.
All stately women moving to a song
With loosened hair or foreheads grief-distraught,
It seemed a Quattrocento painter’s throng,
A thoughtless image of Mantegna’s thought —
Why should they think that are for ever young?
Till suddenly in grief’s contagion caught,
I stared upon his blood-bedabbled breast
And sang my malediction with the rest.
That thing all blood and mire, that beast-torn wreck,
Half turned and fixed a glazing eye on mine,
And, though love’s bitter-sweet had all come back,
Those bodies from a picture or a coin
Nor saw my body fall nor heard it shriek,
Nor knew, drunken with singing as with wine,
That they had brought no fabulous symbol there
But my heart’s victim and its torturer.

IX
A LAST CONFESSION
WHAT lively lad most pleasured me
Of all that with me lay?
I answer that I gave my soul
And loved in misery,
But had great pleasure with a lad
That I loved bodily.
Flinging from his arms I laughed
To think his passion such
He fancied that I gave a soul
Did but our bodies touch,
And laughed upon his breast to think
Beast gave beast as much.
I gave what other women gave
“That stepped out of their clothes.
But when this soul, its body off,
Naked to naked goes,
He it has found shall find therein
What none other knows,
And give his own and take his own
And rule in his own right;
And though it loved in misery
Close and cling so tight,
There’s not a bird of day that dare
Extinguish that delight.


X
MEETING
HIDDEN by old age awhile
In masker’s cloak and hood,
Each hating what the other loved,
Face to face we stood:
“That I have met with such,’ said he,
“Bodes me little good.’
“Let others boast their fill,’ said I,
“But never dare to boast
That such as I had such a man
For lover in the past;
Say that of living men I hate
Such a man the most.’
‘A loony’d boast of such a love,’
He in his rage declared:
But such as he for such as me —
Could we both discard
This beggarly habiliment —
Had found a sweeter word.


XI
FROM THE ‘ANTIGONE’
OVERCOME — O bitter sweetness,
Inhabitant of the soft cheek of a girl —
The rich man and his affairs,
The fat flocks and the fields’ fatness,
Mariners, rough harvesters;
Overcome Gods upon Parnassus;
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,
By that great glory driven wild.
Pray I will and sing I must,
And yet I weep — Oedipus’ child
Descends into the loveless dust.

William Butler Yeats

An Irish Airman Foresees 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 tumult 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

Meru


Civilisation is hooped together, brought
Under a mle, under the semblance of peace
By manifold illusion; but man’s life is thought,
And he, despite his terror, cannot cease
Ravening through century after century,
Ravening, raging, and uprooting that he may come
Into the desolation of reality:
Egypt and Greece, good-bye, and good-bye, Rome!
Hermits upon Mount Meru or Everest,
Caverned in night under the drifted snow,
Or where that snow and winter’s dreadful blast
Beat down upon their naked bodies, know
That day brings round the night, that before dawn
His glory and his monuments are gone.

William Butler Yeats

When You Are Old


When you are old and grey 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 upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

William Butler Yeats

A Coat


I Made my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world’s eyes
As though they’d wrought it.
Song, let them take it
For there’s more enterprise
In walking naked.

William Butler Yeats

John Kinsella’s Lament For Mr. Mary Moore


A Bloody and a sudden end,
Gunshot or a noose,
For Death who takes what man would keep,
Leaves what man would lose.
He might have had my sister,
My cousins by the score,
But nothing satisfied the fool
But my dear Mary Moore,
None other knows what pleasures man
At table or in bed.
i(What shall I do for pretty girls)
i(Now my old bawd is dead?)
Though stiff to strike a bargain,
Like an old Jew man,
Her bargain struck we laughed and talked
And emptied many a can;
And O! but she had stories,
Though not for the priest’s ear,
To keep the soul of man alive,
Banish age and care,
And being old she put a skin
On everything she said.
i(What shall I do for pretty girls)
i(Now my old bawd is dead?)


The priests have got a book that says
But for Adam’s sin
Eden’s Garden would be there
And I there within.
No expectation fails there,
No pleasing habit ends,
No man grows old, no girl grows cold
But friends walk by friends.
Who quarrels over halfpennies
That plucks the trees for bread?
i(What shall I do for pretty girls)
i(Now my old bawd is dead?)

William Butler Yeats

The Sad Shepherd


Shepherd That cry’s from the first cuckoo of the year
I wished before it ceased.


Goatherd Nor bird nor beast
Could make me wish for anything this day,
Being old, but that the old alone might die,
And that would be against God’s Providence.
Let the young wish. But what has brought you here?
Never until this moment have we met
Where my goats browse on the scarce grass or leap
From stone to stone.


Shepherd. I am looking for strayed sheep;
Something has troubled me and in my trouble
I let them stray. I thought of rhyme alone,
For rhyme can beat a measure out of trouble
And make the daylight sweet once more; but when
I had driven every rhyme into its place
The sheep had gone from theirs.


Goatherd. I know right well
What turned so good a shepherd from his charge.


Shepherd. He that was best in every country sport
And every country craft, and of us all
Most courteous to slow age and hasty youth
Is dead.


Goatherd. The boy that brings my griddle cake
Brought the bare news.


Shepherd. He had thrown the crook away
And died in the great war beyond the sea.


Goatherd. He had often played his pipes among my hills
And when he played it was their loneliness,
The exultation of their stone, that cried
Under his fingers.


Shepherd. I had it from his mother,
And his own flock was browsing at the door.


Goatherd. How does she bear her grief? There is not a shepherd
But grows more gentle when he speaks her name,
Remembering kindness done, and how can I,
That found when I had neither goat nor grazing
New welcome and old wisdom at her fire
Till winter blasts were gone, but speak of her
Even before his children and his wife.


Shepherd. She goes about her house erect and calm
Between the pantry and the linen chest,
Or else at meadow or at grazing overlooks
Her labouring men, as though her darling lived,
But for her grandson now; there is no change
But such as I have seen upon her face
Watching our shepherd sports at harvest-time
When her son’s turn was over.


Goatherd. Sing your song,
I too have rhymed my reveries, but youth
Is hot to show whatever it has found
And till that’s done can neither work nor wait.
Old goatherds and old goats, if in all else
Youth can excel them in accomplishment,
Are learned in waiting.


Shepherd. You cannot but have seen
That he alone had gathered up no gear,
Set carpenters to work on no wide table,
On no long bench nor lofty milking shed
As others will, when first they take possession,
But left the house as in his father’s time
As though he knew himself, as it were, a cuckoo,
No settled man. And now that he is gone
There’s nothing of him left but half a score
Of sorrowful, austere, sweet, lofty pipe tunes.

Goatherd. You have put the thought in rhyme.


Shepherd. I worked all day
And when ’twas done so little had I done
That maybe ‘I am sorry’ in plain prose
Had sounded better to your mountain fancy [He sings.]
‘Like the speckled bird that steers
Thousands of leagues oversea,
And runs for a while or a while half-flies
Upon his yellow legs through our meadows,
He stayed for a while; and we
Had scarcely accustomed our ears
To his speech at the break of day,
Had scarcely accustomed our eyes
To his shape in the lengethening shadows,
Where the sheep are thrown in the pool,
When he vanished from ears and eyes.
I had wished a dear thing on that day
I heard him first, but man is a fool.’


Goatherd. You sing as always of the natural life,
And I that made like music in my youth
Hearing it now have sighed for that young man
And certain lost companions of my own.


Shepherd. They say that on your barren mountain ridge
You have measured out the road that the soul treads
When it has vanished from our natural eyes;
That you have talked with apparitions.


Goatherd. Indeed
My daily thoughts since the first stupor of youth
Have found the path my goats’ feet cannot find.


Shepherd. Sing, for it may be that your thoughts have plucked
Some medicable herb to make our grief
Less bitter.


Goatherd. They have brought me from that ridge
Seed-pods and flowers that are not all wild poppy. [Sings.]
‘He grows younger every second
That were all his birthdays reckoned
Much too solemn seemed;
Because of what he had dreamed,
Or the ambitions that he served,
Much too solemn and reserved.
Jaunting, journeying
To his own dayspring,
He unpacks the loaded pern
Of all ’twas pain or joy to learn,
Of all that he had made.
The outrageous war shall fade;
At some old winding whitethorn root
He’ll practice on the shepherd’s flute,
Or on the close-cropped grass
Court his shepherd lass,
Or run where lads reform our daytime
Till that is their long shouting playtime;
Knowledge he shall unwind
Through victories of the mind,
Till, clambering at the cradle side,
He dreams himself his mother’s pride,
All knowledge lost in trance
Of sweeter ignorance.’


Shepherd. When I have shut these ewes and this old ram
Into the fold, we’ll to the woods and there
Cut out our rhymes on strips of new-torn bark
But put no name and leave them at her door.
To know the mountain and the valley grieve
May be a quiet thought to wife and mother,
And children when they spring up shoulder high.

William Butler Yeats

A Bronze Head


Here at right of the entrance this bronze head,
Human, superhuman, a bird’s round eye,
Everything else withered and mummy-dead.
What great tomb-haunter sweeps the distant sky
(Something may linger there though all else die;)
And finds there nothing to make its tetror less
i{Hysterica passio} of its own emptiness?

No dark tomb-haunter once; her form all full
As though with magnanimity of light,
Yet a most gentle woman; who can tell
Which of her forms has shown her substance right?
Or maybe substance can be composite,
profound McTaggart thought so, and in a breath
A mouthful held the extreme of life and death.


But even at the starting-post, all sleek and new,
I saw the wildness in her and I thought
A vision of terror that it must live through
Had shattered her soul. Propinquity had brought
Imagiation to that pitch where it casts out
All that is not itself: I had grown wild
And wandered murmuring everywhere, “My child, my
child! ‘

Or else I thought her supernatural;
As though a sterner eye looked through her eye
On this foul world in its decline and fall;
On gangling stocks grown great, great stocks run dry,
Ancestral pearls all pitched into a sty,
Heroic reverie mocked by clown and knave,
And wondered what was left for massacre to save.

William Butler Yeats

A Prayer For My Daughter


Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind.
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.
I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And-under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.
Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-legged smith for man.
It’s certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of plenty is undone.
In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty’s very self, has charm made wisc.
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.
May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.
My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there’s no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.
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?
Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy Still.
And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all’s accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony’s a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

William Butler Yeats

A Crazed Girl


That crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,

Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.


No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, “O sea-starved, hungry sea.’

William Butler Yeats

A Man Young And Old


I
I(First Love)
Through nurtured like the sailing moon
In beauty’s murderous brood,
She walked awhile and blushed awhile
And on my pathway stood
Until I thought her body bore
A heart of flesh and blood.
But since I laid a hand thereon
And found a heart of stone
I have attempted many things
And not a thing is done,
For every hand is lunatic
That travels on the moon.
She smiled and that transfigured me
And left me but a lout,
Maundering here, and maundering there,
Emptier of thought
Than the heavenly circuit of its stars
When the moon sails out.


II
I(Human Dignity)
Like the moon her kindness is,
If kindness I may call
What has no comprehension in’t,
But is the same for all
As though my sorrow were a scene
Upon a painted wall.
So like a bit of stone I lie
Under a broken tree.
I could recover if I shrieked
My heart’s agony
To passing bird, but I am dumb
From human dignity.


III
I(The Mermaid )
A mermaid found a swimming lad,
Picked him for her own,
Pressed her body to his body,
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.


IV
I(The Death of the Hare)
I have pointed out the yelling pack,
The hare leap to the wood,
And when I pass a compliment
Rejoice as lover should
At the drooping of an eye,
At the mantling of the blood.
Then’ suddenly my heart is wrung
By her distracted air
And I remember wildness lost
And after, swept from there,
Am set down standing in the wood
At the death of the hare.


V
I(The Empty Cup)
A crazy man that found a cup,
When all but dead of thirst,
Hardly dared to wet his mouth
Imagining, moon-accursed,
That another mouthful
And his beating heart would burst.
October last I found it too
But found it dry as bone,
And for that reason am I crazed
And my sleep is gone.


VI
I(His Memories)
We should be hidden from their eyes,
Being but holy shows
And bodies broken like a thorn
Whereon the bleak north blows,
To think of buried Hector
And that none living knows.
The women take so little stock
In what I do or say
They’d sooner leave their cosseting
To hear a jackass bray;
My arms are like the twisted thorn
And yet there beauty lay;
The first of all the tribe lay there
And did such pleasure take —
She who had brought great Hector down
And put all Troy to wreck,
That she cried into this ear,
“Strike me if I shriek.’


VII
I(The Friends of his Youth)
Laughter not time destroyed my voice
And put that crack in it,
And when the moon’s pot-bellied
I get a laughing fit,
For that old Madge comes down the lane,
A stone upon her breast,
And a cloak wrapped about the stone,
And she can get no rest
With singing hush and hush-a-bye;
She that has been wild
And barren as a breaking wave
Thinks that the stone’s a child.
And Peter that had great affairs
And was a pushing man
Shrieks, “I am King of the Peacocks,’
And perches on a stone;
And then I laugh till tears run down
And the heart thumps at my side,
Remembering that her shriek was love
And that he shrieks from pride.

VIII
I(Summer and Spring)
We sat under an old thorn-tree
And talked away the night,
Told all that had been said or done
Since first we saw the light,
And when we talked of growing up
Knew that we’d halved a soul
And fell the one in t’other’s arms
That we might make it whole;
Then peter had a murdering look,
For it seemed that he and she
Had spoken of their childish days
Under that very tree.
O what a bursting out there was,
And what a blossoming,
When we had all the summer-time
And she had all the spring!


IX
I(The Secrets of the Old)
I have old women’s sectets now
That had those of the young;
Madge tells me what I dared not think
When my blood was strong,
And what had drowned a lover once
Sounds like an old song.
Though Margery is stricken dumb
If thrown in Madge’s way,
We three make up a solitude;
For none alive to-day
Can know the stories that we know
Or say the things we say:
How such a man pleased women most
Of all that are gone,
How such a pair loved many years
And such a pair but one,
Stories of the bed of straw
Or the bed of down.


X
I(His Wildness)
O bid me mount and sail up there
Amid the cloudy wrack,
For peg and Meg and Paris’ love
That had so straight a back,
Are gone away, and some that stay
Have changed their silk for sack.
Were I but there and none to hear
I’d have a peacock cry,
For that is natural to a man
That lives in memory,
Being all alone I’d nurse a stone
And sing it lullaby.


XI
I(From ‘Oedipus at Colonus’)
Endure what life God gives and ask no longer span;
Cease to remember the delights of youth, travel-wearied aged man;
Delight becomes death-longing if all longing else be vain.
Even from that delight memory treasures so,
Death, despair, division of families, all entanglements of mankind grow,
As that old wandering beggar and these God-hated children know.
In the long echoing street the laughing dancers throng,
The bride is catried to the bridegroom’s chamber
through torchlight and tumultuous song;
I celebrate the silent kiss that ends short life or long.
Never to have lived is best, ancient writers say;
Never to have drawn the breath of life, never to have
looked into the eye of day;
The second best’s a gay goodnight and quickly turn away.

William Butler Yeats

A Faery Song


We who are old, old and gay,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told:

Give to these children, new from the world,
Silence and love;
And the long dew-dropping hours of the night,
And the stars above:


Give to these children, new from the world,
Rest far from men.
Is anything better, anything better?
Tell us it then:


Us who are old, old and gay,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told.

William Butler Yeats

Really, this collection touches my heart. It’s more on being spiritual and realistic. Compared to other poetry collections, this collection tackles family relations, children, women, men, young or old, which everybody can relate to. No doubt, he was awarded Nobel Prize in Literature.

I was already expecting that―A Crazed Girl would be in the top 20. It was a really spectacular poem that portrays the reality of life. How a girl chose to live in her own fantasy world despite the pain and misery she’d been through.

What about you? What’s your most favorite poem of William Butler Yeats?

Do you still want to add another of his poem to this list? Let me know in the comment section below! 😉

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