The woods of Arcady are dead, And over is their antique joy; Of old the world on dreaming fed; Grey Truth is now her painted toy; Yet still she turns her restless head: But O, sick children of the world, Of all the many changing things In dreary dancing past us whirled, To the cracked tune that Chronos sings, Words alone are certain good. Where are now the warring kings, Word be-mockers?—By the Rood, Where are now the warring kings? An idle word is now their glory, By the stammering schoolboy said, Reading some entangled story: The kings of the old time are dead; The wandering earth herself may be Only a sudden flaming word, In clanging space a moment heard, Troubling the endless reverie. Then nowise worship dusty deeds, Nor seek, for this is also sooth, To hunger fiercely after truth, Lest all thy toiling only breeds New dreams, new dreams; there is no truth Saving in thine own heart. Seek, then, No learning from the starry men, Who follow with the optic glass The whirling ways of stars that pass— Seek, then, for this is also sooth, No word of theirs—the cold star-bane Has cloven and rent their hearts in twain, And dead is all their human truth. Go gather by the humming sea Some twisted, echo-harbouring shell, And to its lips thy story tell, And they thy comforters will be, Rewording in melodious guile Thy fretful words a little while, Till they shall singing fade in ruth And die a pearly brotherhood; For words alone are certain good: Sing, then, for this is also sooth. I must be gone: there is a grave Where daffodil and lily wave, And I would please the hapless faun, Buried under the sleepy ground, With mirthful songs before the dawn. His shouting days with mirth were crowned; And still I dream he treads the lawn, Walking ghostly in the dew, Pierced by my glad singing through, My songs of old earth's dreamy youth: But ah! she dreams not now; dream thou! For fair are poppies on the brow: Dream, dream, for this is also sooth.
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.
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days! Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways: Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide; The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed, Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold; And thine own sadness, whereof stars, grown old In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea, Sing in their high and lonely melody. 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. Come near, come near, come near—Ah, leave me still A little space for the rose-breath to fill! Lest I no more hear common things that crave; The weak worm hiding down in its small cave, The field-mouse running by me in the grass, And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass; But seek alone to hear the strange things said By God to the bright hearts of those long dead, And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know. 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.
Know, that I would accounted be True brother of a company That sang, to sweeten Ireland's wrong, Ballad and story, rann and song; Nor be I any less of them, Because the red-rose-bordered hem Of her, whose history began Before God made the angelic clan, Trails all about the written page. When Time began to rant and rage The measure of her flying feet Made Ireland's heart begin to beat; And Time bade all his candles flare To light a measure here and there; And may the thoughts of Ireland brood Upon a measured quietude. Nor may I less be counted one With Davis, Mangan, Ferguson, Because, to him who ponders well, My rhymes more than their rhyming tell Of things discovered in the deep, Where only body's laid asleep. For the elemental creatures go About my table to and fro, That hurry from unmeasured mind To rant and rage in flood and wind; Yet he who treads in measured ways May surely barter gaze for gaze. Man ever journeys on with them After the red-rose-bordered hem. Ah, faeries, dancing under the moon, A Druid land, a Druid tune! While still I may, I write for you The love I lived, the dream I knew. From our birthday, until we die, Is but the winking of an eye; And we, our singing and our love, What measurer Time has lit above, And all benighted things that go About my table to and fro, Are passing on to where may be, In truth's consuming ecstasy, No place for love and dream at all; For God goes by with white footfall. 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.
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.
I thought of your beauty, and this arrow, Made 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, Tall and noble but with face and bosom Delicate in colour as apple blossom. This beauty's kinder, yet for a reason I could weep that the old is out of season.
Sweetheart, do not love too long: I loved long and long, And grew to be out of fashion Like an old song. All through the years of our youth Neither could have known Their own thought from the other's, We were so much at one. But O, in a minute she changed— O do not love too long, Or you will grow out of fashion Like an old song.
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.
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? Though I have many words, What woman's satisfied, I am no longer faint Because at her side? O who could have foretold That the heart grows old? I have not lost desire But the heart that I had; I thought 'twould burn my body Laid on the death-bed, For who could have foretold That the heart grows old?
Bald heads forgetful of their sins, Old, learned, respectable bald heads Edit and annotate the lines That young men, tossing on their beds, Rhymed 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 neighbour knows. Lord, what would they say Did their Catullus walk that way?
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 unageing 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.
I What shall I do with this absurdity— O heart, O troubled heart—this caricature, Decrepit age that has been tied to me As to a dog's tail? Never had I more Excited, passionate, fantastical Imagination, nor an ear and eye That more expected the impossible— No, not in boyhood when with rod and fly, Or the humbler worm, I climbed Ben Bulben's back And had the livelong summer day to spend. It seems that I must bid the Muse go pack, Choose Plato and Plotinus for a friend Until imagination, ear and eye, Can be content with argument and deal In abstract things; or be derided by A sort of battered kettle at the heel. II I pace upon the battlements and stare On the foundations of a house, or where Tree, like a sooty finger, starts from the earth; And send imagination forth Under the day's declining beam, and call Images and memories From ruin or from ancient trees, For I would ask a question of them all. Beyond that ridge lived Mrs. French, and once When every silver candlestick or sconce Lit up the dark mahogany and the wine, A serving-man, that could divine That most respected lady's every wish, Ran and with the garden shears Clipped an insolent farmer's ears And brought them in a little covered dish. Some few remembered still when I was young A peasant girl commended by a song, Who'd lived somewhere upon that rocky place, And praised the colour of her face, And had the greater joy in praising her, Remembering that, if walked she there, Farmers jostled at the fair So great a glory did the song confer. And certain men, being maddened by those rhymes, Or else by toasting her a score of times, Rose from the table and declared it right To test their fancy by their sight; But they mistook the brightness of the moon For the prosaic light of day— Music had driven their wits astray— And one was drowned in the great bog of Cloone. Strange, but the man who made the song was blind; Yet, now I have considered it, I find That nothing strange; the tragedy began With Homer that was a blind man, And Helen has all living hearts betrayed. O may the moon and sunlight seem One inextricable beam, For if I triumph I must make men mad. And I myself created Hanrahan And drove him drunk or sober through the dawn From somewhere in the neighbouring cottages. Caught by an old man's juggleries He stumbled, tumbled, fumbled to and fro And had but broken knees for hire And horrible splendour of desire; I thought it all out twenty years ago: Good fellows shuffled cards in an old bawn; And when that ancient ruffian's turn was on He so bewitched the cards under his thumb That all but the one card became A pack of hounds and not a pack of cards, And that he changed into a hare. Hanrahan rose in frenzy there And followed up those baying creatures towards— O towards I have forgotten what-enough! I must recall a man that neither love Nor music nor an enemy's clipped ear Could, he was so harried, cheer; A figure that has grown so fabulous There's not a neighbour left to say When he finished his dog's day: An ancient bankrupt master of this house. Before that ruin came, for centuries, Rough men-at-arms, cross-gartered to the knees Or shod in iron, climbed the narrow stairs, And certain men-at-arms there were Whose images, in the Great Memory stored, Come with loud cry and panting breast To break upon a sleeper's rest While their great wooden dice beat on the board. As I would question all, come all who can; Come old, necessitous, half-mounted man; And bring beauty's blind rambling celebrant; The red man the juggler sent Through God-forsaken meadows; Mrs. French, Gifted with so fine an ear; The man drowned in a bog's mire, When mocking Muses chose the country wench. Did all old men and women, rich and poor, Who trod upon these rocks or passed this door, Whether in public or in secret rage As I do now against old age? But I have found an answer in those eyes That are impatient to be gone; Go therefore; but leave Hanrahan, For I need all his mighty memories. Old lecher with a love on every wind, Bring up out of that deep considering mind All that you have discovered in the grave, For it is certain that you have Reckoned up every unforeknown, unseeing Plunge, lured by a softening eye, Or by a touch or a sigh, Into the labyrinth of another's being; Does the imagination dwell the most Upon a woman won or woman lost? If on the lost, admit you turned aside From a great labyrinth out of pride, Cowardice, some silly over-subtle thought Or anything called conscience once; And that if memory recur, the sun's Under eclipse and the day blotted out. III It is time that I wrote my will; I choose upstanding men That climb the streams until The fountain leap, and at dawn Drop their cast at the side Of dripping stone; I declare They shall inherit my pride, The pride of people that were Bound neither to Cause nor to State, Neither to slaves that were spat on, Nor to the tyrants that spat, The people of Burke and of Grattan That gave, though free to refuse— Pride, like that of the morn, When the headlong light is loose, Or that of the fabulous horn, Or that of the sudden shower When all streams are dry, Or that of the hour When the swan must fix his eye Upon a fading gleam, Float out upon a long Last reach of glittering stream And there sing his last song. And I declare my faith: I mock Plotinus' thought And cry in Plato's teeth, Death and life were not Till man made up the whole, Made lock, stock and barrel Out of his bitter soul, Aye, sun and moon and star, all, And further add to that That, being dead, we rise, Dream and so create Translunar paradise. I have prepared my peace With learned Italian things And the proud stones of Greece, Poet's imaginings And memories of love, Memories of the words of women All those things whereof Man makes a superhuman Mirror-resembling dream. As at the loophole there The daws chatter and scream, And drop twigs layer upon layer. When they have mounted up, The mother bird will rest On their hollow top, And so warm her wild nest. I leave both faith and pride To young upstanding men Climbing the mountain-side, That under bursting dawn They may drop a fly; Being of that metal made Till it was broken by This sedentary trade. Now shall I make my soul, Compelling it to study In a learned school Till the wreck of body, Slow decay of blood, Testy delirium Or dull decrepitude, Or what worse evil come— The death of friends, or death Of every brilliant eye That made a catch in the breath— Seem but the clouds of the sky When the horizon fades; Or a bird's sleepy cry Among the deepening shades.
I I walk through the long schoolroom questioning; A kind old nun in a white hood replies; The children learn to cipher and to sing, To study reading-books and histories, To cut and sew, be neat in everything In the best modern way—the children's eyes In momentary wonder stare upon A sixty-year-old smiling public man. II I dream of a Ledaean body, bent Above a sinking fire. a tale that she Told of a harsh reproof, or trivial event That changed some childish day to tragedy— Told, and it seemed that our two natures blent Into a sphere from youthful sympathy, Or else, to alter Plato's parable, Into the yolk and white of the one shell. III And thinking of that fit of grief or rage I look upon one child or t'other there And wonder if she stood so at that age— For even daughters of the swan can share Something of every paddler's heritage— And had that colour upon cheek or hair, And thereupon my heart is driven wild: She stands before me as a living child. IV Her present image floats into the mind— Did Quattrocento finger fashion it Hollow of cheek as though it drank the wind And took a mess of shadows for its meat? And I though never of Ledaean kind Had pretty plumage once—enough of that, Better to smile on all that smile, and show There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow. V What youthful mother, a shape upon her lap Honey of generation had betrayed, And that must sleep, shriek, struggle to escape As recollection or the drug decide, Would think her son, did she but see that shape With sixty or more winters on its head, A compensation for the pang of his birth, Or the uncertainty of his setting forth? VI Plato thought nature but a spume that plays Upon a ghostly paradigm of things; Solider Aristotle played the taws Upon the bottom of a king of kings; World-famous golden-thighed Pythagoras Fingered upon a fiddle-stick or strings What a star sang and careless Muses heard: Old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird. VII 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. And yet they too break hearts—O Presences That passion, piety or affection knows, And that all heavenly glory symbolise— O self-born mockers of man's enterprise; VIII Labour is blossoming or dancing where The body is not bruised to pleasure soul, Nor beauty born out of its own despair, Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil. O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer, Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole? O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, How can we know the dancer from the dance?
I First Love Though 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 The Secrets of the Old I have old women's secrets 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 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.
We that have done and thought, That have thought and done, Must ramble, and thin out Like milk spilt on a stone.
Under my window-ledge the waters race, Otters below and moor-hens on the top, Run for a mile undimmed in Heaven's face Then darkening through 'dark' Raftery's 'cellar' drop, Run underground, rise in a rocky place In Coole demesne, and there to finish up Spread to a lake and drop into a hole. What's water but the generated soul? Upon the border of that lake's a wood Now all dry sticks under a wintry sun, And in a copse of beeches there I stood, For Nature's pulled her tragic buskin on And all the rant's a mirror of my mood: At sudden thunder of the mounting swan I turned about and looked where branches break The glittering reaches of the flooded lake. Another emblem there! That stormy white But seems a concentration of the sky; And, like the soul, it sails into the sight And in the morning's gone, no man knows why; And is so lovely that it sets to right What knowledge or its lack had set awry, So arrogantly pure, a child might think It can be murdered with a spot of ink. Sound of a stick upon the floor, a sound From somebody that toils from chair to chair; Beloved books that famous hands have bound, Old marble heads, old pictures everywhere; Great rooms where travelled men and children found Content or joy; a last inheritor Where none has reigned that lacked a name and fame Or out of folly into folly came. A spot whereon the founders lived and died Seemed once more dear than life; ancestral trees, Or gardens rich in memory glorified Marriages, alliances and families, And every bride's ambition satisfied. Where fashion or mere fantasy decrees We shift about—all that great glory spent— Like some poor Arab tribesman and his tent. We were the last romantics—chose for theme Traditional sanctity and loveliness; Whatever's written in what poets name The book of the people; whatever most can bless The mind of man or elevate a rhyme; But all is changed, that high horse riderless, Though mounted in that saddle Homer rode Where the swan drifts upon a darkening flood.
I Between extremities Man runs his course; A brand, or flaming breath, Comes to destroy All those antinomies Of day and night; The body calls it death, The heart remorse. But if these be right What is joy? II A tree there is that from its topmost bough Is half all glittering flame and half all green Abounding foliage moistened with the dew; And half is half and yet is all the scene; And half and half consume what they renew, And he that Attis' image hangs between That staring fury and the blind lush leaf May know not what he knows, but knows not grief. III Get all the gold and silver that you can, Satisfy ambition, animate The trivial days and ram them with the sun, And yet upon these maxims meditate: All women dote upon an idle man Although their children need a rich estate; No man has ever lived that had enough Of children's gratitude or woman's love. No longer in Lethean foliage caught Begin the preparation for your death And from the fortieth winter by that thought 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. IV My fiftieth year had come and gone, I sat, a solitary man, In a crowded London shop, An open book and empty cup On the marble table-top. While on the shop and street I gazed My body of a sudden blazed; And twenty minutes more or less It seemed, so great my happiness, That I was blessèd and could bless. V Although the summer sunlight gild Cloudy leafage of the sky, Or wintry moonlight sink the field In storm-scattered intricacy, I cannot look thereon, Responsibility so weighs me down. Things said or done long years ago, Or things I did not do or say But thought that I might say or do, Weigh me down, and not a day But something is recalled, My conscience or my vanity appalled. VI A rivery field spread out below, An odour of the new-mown hay In his nostrils, the great lord of Chou Cried, casting off the mountain snow, 'Let all things pass away.' Wheels by milk-white asses drawn Where Babylon or Nineveh Rose; some conqueror or drew rein And cried to battle-weary men, 'Let all things pass away.' From man's blood-sodden heart are sprung Those branches of the night and day Where the gaudy moon is hung. What's the meaning of all song? 'Let all things pass away.' VII The Soul. Seek out reality, leave things that seem. The Heart. What, be a singer born and lack a theme? The Soul. Isaiah's coal, what more can man desire? The Heart. Struck dumb in the simplicity of fire! The Soul. Look on that fire, salvation walks within. The Heart. What theme had Homer but original sin? VIII Must we part, Von Hügel, though much alike, for we Accept the miracles of the saints and honour sanctity? The body of Saint Teresa lies undecayed in tomb, Bathed in miraculous oil, sweet odours from it come, Healing from its lettered slab. Those self-same hands perchance Eternalised the body of a modern saint that once Had scooped out Pharaoh's mummy. I—though heart might find relief Did I become a Christian man and choose for my belief What seems most welcome in the tomb—play a predestined part. Homer is my example and his unchristened heart. The lion and the honeycomb, what has Scripture said? So get you gone, Von Hügel, though with blessings on your head. 1932
I Crazy Jane and the Bishop Bring me to the blasted oak That I, midnight upon the stroke, (All find safety in the tomb.) May call down curses on his head Because of my dear Jack that's dead. Coxcomb was the least he said: The solid man and the coxcomb. Nor was he Bishop when his ban Banished Jack the Journeyman, (All find safety in the tomb.) Nor so much as parish priest, Yet he, an old book in his fist, Cried that we lived like beast and beast: The solid man and the coxcomb. The Bishop has a skin, God knows, Wrinkled like the foot of a goose, (All find safety in the tomb.) Nor can he hide in holy black The heron's hunch upon his back, But a birch-tree stood my Jack: The solid man and the coxcomb. Jack had my virginity, And bids me to the oak, for he (All find safety in the tomb.) Wanders out into the night And there is shelter under it, But should that other come, I spit: The solid man and the coxcomb. II Crazy Jane Reproved I Care not what the sailors say: All those dreadful thunder-stones, All that storm that blots the day Can but show that Heaven yawns; Great Europa played the fool That changed a lover for a bull. Fol de rol, fol de rol. To round that shell's elaborate whorl, Adorning every secret track With the delicate mother-of-pearl, Made the joints of Heaven crack: So never hang your heart upon A roaring, ranting journeyman. Fol de rol, fol de rol. III Crazy Jane on the Day of Judgment 'Love is all Unsatisfied That cannot take the whole Body and soul'; And that is what Jane said. 'Take the sour If you take me, I can scoff and lour And scold for an hour.' 'That's certainly the case,' said he. 'Naked I lay, The grass my bed; Naked and hidden away, That black day'; And that is what Jane said. 'What can be shown? What true love be? All could be known or shown If Time were but gone.' 'That's certainly the case,' said he. V Crazy Jane on God That lover of a night Came when he would, Went in the dawning light Whether I would or no; Men come, men go; All things remain in God. Banners choke the sky; Men-at-arms tread; Armoured horses neigh Where the great battle was In the narrow pass: All things remain in God. Before their eyes a house That from childhood stood Uninhabited, ruinous, Suddenly lit up From door to top: All things remain in God. I had wild Jack for a lover; Though like a road That men pass over My body makes no moan But sings on: All things remain in God. VI Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop I met the Bishop on the road And much said he and I. 'Those breasts are flat and fallen now, Those veins must soon be dry; Live in a heavenly mansion, Not in some foul sty.' 'Fair and foul are near of kin, And fair needs foul,' I cried. 'My friends are gone, but that's a truth Nor grave nor bed denied, Learned in bodily lowliness And in the heart's pride. 'A woman can be proud and stiff When on love intent; But Love has pitched his mansion in The place of excrement; For nothing can be sole or whole That has not been rent.' X Her Anxiety Earth in beauty dressed Awaits returning spring. All true love must die, Alter at the best Into some lesser thing. Prove that I lie. Such body lovers have, Such exacting breath, That they touch or sigh. Every touch they give, Love is nearer death. Prove that I lie. XI His Confidence Undying love to buy I wrote upon The corners of this eye All wrongs done. What payment were enough For undying love? I broke my heart in two So hard I struck. What matter? for I know That out of rock, Out of a desolate source, Love leaps upon its course. XV Three Things 'O Cruel Death, give three things back,' Sang a bone upon the shore; 'A child found all a child can lack, Whether of pleasure or of rest, Upon the abundance of my breast': A bone wave-whitened and dried in the wind. 'Three dear things that women know,' Sang a bone upon the shore; 'A man if I but held him so When my body was alive Found all the pleasure that life gave': A bone wave-whitened and dried in the wind. 'The third thing that I think of yet,' Sang a bone upon the shore, 'Is that morning when I met Face to face my rightful man And did after stretch and yawn': A bone wave-whitened and dried in the wind. XVI Lullaby Beloved, may your sleep be sound That have found it where you fed. What were all the world's alarms To mighty Paris when he found Sleep upon a golden bed That first dawn in Helen's arms? Sleep, beloved, such a sleep As did that wild Tristram know When, the potion's work being done, Roe could run or doe could leap Under oak and beechen bough, Roe could leap or doe could run; Such a sleep and sound as fell Upon Eurotas' grassy bank When the holy bird, that there Accomplished his predestined will, From the limbs of Leda sank But not from her protecting care. XVII After Long Silence Speech after long silence; it is right, All other lovers being estranged or dead, Unfriendly lamplight hid under its shade, The curtains drawn upon unfriendly night, That we descant and yet again descant Upon the supreme theme of Art and Song: Bodily decrepitude is wisdom; young We loved each other and were ignorant. XVIII Mad as the Mist and Snow Bolt and bar the shutter, For the foul winds blow: Our minds are at their best this night, And I seem to know That everything outside us is Mad as the mist and snow. Horace there by Homer stands, Plato stands below, And here is Tully's open page. How many years ago Were you and I unlettered lads Mad as the mist and snow? You ask what makes me sigh, old friend, What makes me shudder so? I shudder and I sigh to think That even Cicero And many-minded Homer were Mad as the mist and snow. XIX Those Dancing Days are Gone Come, let me sing into your ear; Those dancing days are gone, All that silk and satin gear; Crouch upon a stone, Wrapping that foul body up In as foul a rag: I carry the sun in a golden cup, The moon in a silver bag. Curse as you may I sing it through; What matter if the knave That the most could pleasure you, The children that he gave, Are somewhere sleeping like a top Under a marble flag? I carry the sun in a golden cup, The moon in a silver bag. 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: I carry the sun in a golden cup, The moon in a silver bag. XX 'I am of Ireland' I am of Ireland, And the Holy Land of Ireland, And time runs on,' cried she. 'Come out of charity, Come dance with me in Ireland.' One man, one man alone In that outlandish gear, One solitary man Of all that rambled there Had turned his stately head. 'That is a long way off, And time runs on,' he said, 'And the night grows rough.' 'I am of Ireland, And the Holy Land of Ireland, And time runs on,' cried she. 'Come out of charity And dance with me in Ireland.' 'The fiddlers are all thumbs, Or the fiddle-string accursed, The drums and the kettledrums And the trumpets all are burst, And the trombone,' cried he, 'The trumpet and trombone,' And cocked a malicious eye, 'But time runs on, runs on.' 'I am of Ireland, And the Holy Land of Ireland, And time runs on,' cried she. 'Come out of charity And dance with me in Ireland.' August 19, 1931
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? 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. 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.
The gyres! the gyres! Old Rocky Face, look forth; Things thought too long can be no longer thought, For beauty dies of beauty, worth of worth, And ancient lineaments are blotted out. Irrational streams of blood are staining earth; Empedocles has thrown all things about; Hector is dead and there's a light in Troy; We that look on but laugh in tragic joy. What matter though numb nightmare ride on top, And blood and mire the sensitive body stain? What matter? Heave no sigh, let no tear drop, A greater, a more gracious time has gone; For painted forms or boxes of make-up In ancient tombs I sighed, but not again; What matter? Out of cavern comes a voice, And all it knows is that one word 'Rejoice!' Conduct and work grow coarse, and coarse the soul, What matter? Those that Rocky Face holds dear, Lovers of horses and of women, shall, From marble of a broken sepulchre, Or dark betwixt the polecat and the owl, Or any rich, dark nothing disinter The workman, noble and saint, and all things run On that unfashionable gyre again.
Why should not old men be mad? Some have known a likely lad That had a sound fly-fisher's wrist Turn to a drunken journalist; A girl that knew all Dante once Live to bear children to a dunce; A Helen of social welfare dream, Climb on a wagonette to scream. Some think it a matter of course that chance Should starve good men and bad advance, That if their neighbours figured plain, As though upon a lighted screen, No single story would they find Of an unbroken happy mind, A finish worthy of the start. Young men know nothing of this sort, Observant old men know it well; And when they know what old books tell, And that no better can be had, Know why an old man should be mad.
I Swear by what the sages spoke Round the Mareotic Lake That the Witch of Atlas knew, Spoke and set the cocks a-crow. Swear by those horsemen, by those women Complexion and form prove superhuman, That pale, long-visaged company That air in immortality Completeness of their passions won; Now they ride the wintry dawn Where Ben Bulben sets the scene. Here's the gist of what they mean. II Many times man lives and dies Between his two eternities, That of race and that of soul, And ancient Ireland knew it all. Whether man die in his bed Or the rifle knocks him dead, A brief parting from those dear Is the worst man has to fear. Though grave-diggers' toil is long, Sharp their spades, their muscles strong, They but thrust their buried men Back in the human mind again. III You that Mitchel's prayer have heard, 'Send war in our time, O Lord!' Know that when all words are said And a man is fighting mad, Something drops from eyes long blind, He completes his partial mind, For an instant stands at ease, Laughs aloud, his heart at peace. Even the wisest man grows tense With some sort of violence Before he can accomplish fate, Know his work or choose his mate. IV Poet and sculptor, do the work, Nor let the modish painter shirk What his great forefathers did, Bring the soul of man to God, Make him fill the cradles right. Measurement began our might: Forms a stark Egyptian thought, Forms that gentler Phidias wrought. Michael Angelo left a proof On the Sistine Chapel roof, Where but half-awakened Adam Can disturb globe-trotting Madam Till her bowels are in heat, Proof that there's a purpose set Before the secret working mind: Profane perfection of mankind. Quattrocento put in paint On backgrounds for a God or Saint Gardens where a soul's at ease; Where everything that meets the eye, Flowers and grass and cloudless sky, Resemble forms that are or seem When sleepers wake and yet still dream, And when it's vanished still declare, With only bed and bedstead there, That heavens had opened. Gyres run on; When that greater dream had gone Calvert and Wilson, Blake and Claude, Prepared a rest for the people of God, Palmer's phrase, but after that Confusion fell upon our thought. V Irish poets, learn your trade, Sing whatever is well made, Scorn the sort now growing up All out of shape from toe to top, Their unremembering hearts and heads Base-born products of base beds. Sing the peasantry, and then Hard-riding country gentlemen, The holiness of monks, and after Porter-drinkers' randy laughter; Sing the lords and ladies gay That were beaten into the clay Through seven heroic centuries; Cast your mind on other days That we in coming days may be Still the indomitable Irishry. VI Under bare Ben Bulben's head In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid. An ancestor was rector there Long years ago, a church stands near, By the road an ancient cross. No marble, no conventional phrase; On limestone quarried near the spot By his command these words are cut: Cast a cold eye On life, on death. Horseman, pass by! September 4, 1938
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 barsMurmur, a little sadly, how love fled And paced upon the mountains overhead And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
Although I can see him still, The freckled man who goes To a grey place on a hill In grey Connemara clothes At dawn to cast his flies, It’s long since I began To call up to the eyes This wise and simple man. All day I’d looked in the face What I had hoped ‘twould be To write for my own race And the reality; The living men that I hate, The dead man that I loved, The craven man in his seat, The insolent unreproved, And no knave brought to book Who has won a drunken cheer, The witty man and his joke Aimed at the commonest ear, The clever man who cries The catch-cries of the clown, The beating down of the wise And great Art beaten down. Maybe a twelvemonth since Suddenly I began, In scorn of this audience, Imagining a man And his sun-freckled face, And grey Connemara cloth, Climbing up to a place Where stone is dark under froth, And the down turn of his wrist When the flies drop in the stream: A man who does not exist, A man who is but a dream; And cried, ‘Before I am old I shall have written him one Poem maybe as cold And passionate as the dawn.’
SAY that the men of the old black tower, Though they but feed as the goatherd feeds, Their money spent, their wine gone sour, Lack nothing that a soldier needs, That all are oath-bound men: Those banners come not in. There in the tomb stand the dead upright, But winds come up from the shore: They shake when the winds roar, Old bones upon the mountain shake. Those banners come to bribe or threaten, Or whisper that a man’s a fool Who, when his own right king’s forgotten, Cares what king sets up his rule. If he died long ago Why do yopu dread us so? There in the tomb drops the faint moonlight, But wind comes up from the shore: They shake when the winds roar, Old bones upon the mountain shake. The tower’s old cook that must climb and clamber Catching small birds in the dew of the morn When we hale men lie stretched in slumber Swears that he hears the king’s great horn. But he’s a lying hound: Stand we on guard oath-bound! There in the tomb the dark grows blacker, But wind comes up from the shore: They shake when the winds roar, Old bones upon the mountain shake.
NOR dread nor hope attend A dying animal; A man awaits his endDreading and hoping all; Many times he died, Many times rose again. A great man in his pride Confronting murderous men Casts derision upon Supersession of breath; He knows death to the bone — Man has created death.
‘THOSE Platonists are a curse,’ he said, ‘God’s fire upon the wane, A diagram hung there instead, More women born than men.’
The intellect of man is forced to choose perfection of the life, or of the work, And if it take the second must refuse A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark. When all that story’s finished, what’s the news? In luck or out the toil has left its mark: That old perplexity an empty purse, Or the day’s vanity, the night’s remorse.