william butler yeats Quotes

William Butler Yeats Quotes

Birth Date: 1865-06-13 (Tuesday, June 13th, 1865)
Date of Death: 1939-01-28 (Saturday, January 28th, 1939)

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Quotes

    • The only business of the head in the world is to bow a ceaseless obeisance to the heart.
    • This melancholy London. I sometimes imagine that the souls of the lost are compelled to walk through its streets perpetually. One feels them passing like a whiff of air.
    • I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all - the colleges I mean - like an opera.
    • I hate journalists. There is nothing in them but tittering jeering emptiness. They have all made what Dante calls the Great Refusal, - that is they have ceased to be self-centered, have given up their individuality.... The shallowest people on the ridge of the earth.
    • Words are always getting conventionalized to some secondary meaning. It is one of the works of poetry to take the truants in custody and bring them back to their right senses.
    • The years like great black oxen tread the world, And God the herdsman goads them on behind, And I am broken by their passing feet.
    • The creations of a great writer are little more than the moods and passions of his own heart, given surnames and Christian names, and sent to walk the earth.
    • The friends that have it I do wrong Whenever I remake a song Should know what issue is at stake, It is myself that I remake.
    • We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.
    • One day when I was twenty-three or twenty-four this sentence seemed to form in my head, without my willing it, much as sentences form when we are half-asleep: 'Hammer your thoughts into unity.' For days I could think of nothing else, and for years I tested all I did by that sentence.
    • I agree about Shaw - he is haunted by the mystery he flouts. He is an atheist who trembles in the haunted corridor.
    • This country will not always be an uncomfortable place for a country gentleman to live in, and it is most important that we should keep in this country a certain leisured class. I am afraid that Labour disagrees with me in that. On this matter I am a crusted Tory. I am of the opinion of the ancient Jewish book which says 'there is no wisdom without leisure.'
    • I think you can leave the arts, superior or inferior, to the conscience of mankind.
    • The official designs of the Government, especially its designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage, may be described, I think, as the silent ambassadors of national taste.
    • Englishmen are babes in philosophy and so prefer faction-fighting to the labour of its unfamiliar thought.
    • Man can embody truth but he cannot know it.
    • 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.
    • 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 berries 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.
    • 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.
    • Words alone are certain good.
    • Dream, dream, for this is also sooth.
    • Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days! Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways.
    • 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;
    • 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.
    • A pity beyond all telling Is hid in the heart of love: The folk who are buying and selling, The clouds on their journey above, The cold wet winds ever blowing, And the shadowy hazel grove Where mouse-grey waters are flowing, Threaten the head that I 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.
    • 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 upon the mountains overhead And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
    • 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.
    • The Land of Faery, Where nobody gets old and godly and grave, Where nobody gets old and crafty and wise, Where nobody gets old and bitter of tongue.
    • Life moves out of a red flare of dreams Into a common light of common hours, Until old age bring the red flare again.
    • I would mould a world of fire and dew With no one bitter, grave, or over wise, And nothing marred or old to do you wrong.
    • Land of Heart's Desire, Where beauty has no ebb, decay no flood, But joy is wisdom, time an endless song.
    • All things uncomely and broken, all things worn out and old, The cry of a child by the roadway, the creak of a lumbering cart, The heavy steps of the ploughman, splashing the wintry mould, Are wronging your image that blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart.
    • And God stands winding His lonely horn, And time and the world are ever in flight; And love is less kind than the grey twilight, And hope is less dear than the dew of the morn.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • When I play on my fiddle in Dooney, Folk dance like a wave of the sea.
    • I have heard the pigeons of the Seven Woods Make their faint thunder, and the garden bees Hum in the lime-tree flowers; and put away The unavailing outcries and the old bitterness That empty the heart. I have forgot awhile Tara uprooted, and new commonness Upon the throne and crying about the streets And hanging its paper flowers from post to post, Because it is alone of all things happy. I am contented,for I know that Quiet Wanders laughing and eating her wild heart Among pigeons and bees, while that Great Archer, Who but awaits His house to shoot, still hands A cloudy quiver over Pairc-na-lee.
    • 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.
    • One that is ever kind said yesterday: 'Your well-beloved's hair has threads of grey, And little shadows come about her eyes; Time can but make it easier to be wise Though now it seems impossible, and so All that you need is patience.' Heart cries, 'No, I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain. Time can but make her beauty over again: Because of that great nobleness of hers The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs, Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways When all the wild summer was in her gaze.' O heart! O heart! if she'd but turn her head, You'd know the folly of being comforted.
    • Never give all the heart, for love Will hardly seem worth thinking of To passionate women if it seem Certain, and the never dream That it fades out from kiss to kiss; For everything that's lovely is but a brief, dreamy, kind of delight. O never give the heart outright, For they, for all smooth lips can say, Have given their hearts up to the play. And who could play it well enough If deaf and dumb and blind with love? He that made this knows all the cost, For he gave all his heart and lost.
    • 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.'
    • O hurry where by water among the trees The delicate-stepping stag and his lady sigh, When they have but looked upon their images-- Would none had ever loved but you and I! Or have you heard that sliding silver-shoed Pale silver-proud queen-woman of the sky, When the sun looked out of his golden hood?-- O that none ever loved but you and I! O hurry to the ragged wood, for there I will drive all those lovers out and cry-- O my share of the world, O yellow hair! No one has ever loved but you and I.
    • 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.
    • A line will take us hours maybe; Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought, Our stitching and unstitching has been naught. Better go down upon your marrow-bones And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather; For to articulate sweet sounds together Is to work harder than all these, and yet Be thought an idler by the noisy set Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen The martyrs call the world.
    • It's certain there is no fine thing Since Adam's fall but needs much labouring. There have been lovers who thought love should be So much compounded of high courtesy That they would sigh and quote with learned looks Precedents out of beautiful old books; Yet now it seems an idle trade enough.
    • I had a thought for no one's but your ears: That you were beautiful, and that I strove To love you in the old high way of love; That it had all seemed happy, and yet we'd grown As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.
    • 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?
    • The fascination of what's difficult Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent Spontaneous joy and natural content Out of my heart. There's something ails our colt That must, as if it had not holy blood Nor on Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud, Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and jolt As though it dragged road-metal. My curse on plays That have to be set up in fifty ways, On the day's war with every knave and dolt, Theatre business, management of men. I swear before the dawn comes round again I'll find the stable and pull out the bolt.
    • 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.
    • Though leaves are many, the root is one; Through all the lying days of my youth I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun; Now I may wither into the truth.
    • I that have not your faith, how shall I know That in the blinding light beyond the grave We'll find so good a thing as that we have lost? The hourly kindness, the day's common speech, The habitual content of each with each When neither soul nor body has been crossed.
    • I swayed upon the gaudy stern The butt-end of a steering-oar, And saw wherever I could turn A crowd upon a shore. And though I would have hushed the crowd, There was no mother's son but said, 'What is the figure in a shroud Upon a gaudy bed?' And after running at the brim Cried out upon that thing beneath --It had such dignity of a limb-- By the sweet name of Death. Though I'd my finger on my lip, What could I but take up the song? And running crowd and gaudy ship Cried out the whole night long, Crying amid the glittering sea, Naming it with the ecstatic breath, Because it had such dignity, By the sweet name of Death.
    • Some may have blamed you that you took away The verses that could move them on the day When, the ears being deafened, the sight of the eyes blind With lightning, you went from me, and I could find Nothing to make a song about but kings, Helmets, and swords, and half-forgotten things That were like memories of you--but now We'll out, for the world lives as long ago; And while we're in our laughing, weeping fit, Hurl helmets, crowns, and swords into the pit. But, dear, cling close to me; since you were gone, My barren thoughts have chilled me to the bone.
    • Ah, that Time could touch a form That could show what Homer's age Bred to be a hero's wage. 'Were not all her life but a storm, Would not painters pain a form Of such noble lines,' I said, 'Such a delicate high head, All that sternness amid charm, All that sweetness amid strength? Ah, but peace that comes at length, Came when Time had touched her form.
    • O heart, be at peace, because Nor knave nor dolt can break What's not for their applause Being for a woman's sake. Enough if the work has seemed, So did she your strength renew, A dream that a lion had dreamed Till the wilderness cried aloud, A secret between you two, Between the proud and the proud. What, still you would have their praise! But here's a haughtier text, The labyrinth of her days That her own strangeness perplexed; And how what her dreaming gave Earned slander, ingratitude, From self-same dolt and knave; Aye, and worse wrong than these. Yet she, singing upon her road, Half lion, half child, is at peace.
    • You say, as I have often given tongue In praise of what another's said or sung, 'Twere politic to do the like by these; But was there ever a dog that praised his fleas?
    • Have you made greatness your companion, Although it be for children that you sigh: These are the clouds about the fallen sun, The majesty that shuts his burning eye.
    • 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.
    • Pardon, old fathers, if you still remain Somewhere in ear-shot for the story's end.
    • While I, that reed-throated whisperer Who comes at need, although not now as once A clear articulation in the air, But inwardly, surmise companions Beyond the fling of the dull ass's hoof -Ben Jonson's phrase-and find when June is come At Kyle-na-no under that ancient roof A sterner conscience and a friendlier home, I can forgive even that wrong of wrongs, Those undreamt accidents that have made me -Seeing that Fame has perished that long while, Being but a part of ancient ceremony- Notorious, till all my priceless things Are but a post the passing dogs defile.
    • Was it for this the wild geese spread The grey wing upon every tide; For this that all that blood was shed, For this Edward Fitzgerald died, And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone, All that delirium of the brave? Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, It's with O'Leary in the grave.
    • Now all the truth is out, Be secret and take defeat From any brazen throat, For how can you compete, Being honour bred, with one Who, were it proved he lies, Were neither shamed in his own Nor in his neighbours' eyes? Bred to a harder thing Than Triumph, turn away And like a laughing string Whereon mad fingers play Amid a place of stone, Be secret and exult, Because of all things known That is most difficult.
    • Now as at all times I can see in the mind's eye, In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones Appear and disappear in the blue depth of the sky With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones, And all their helms of Silver hovering side by side, And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more, Being by Calvary's turbulence unsatisfied, The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.
    • 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.
    • I would be ignorant as the dawn That merely stood, rocking the glittering coach Above the cloudy shoulders of the horses; I would be- for no knowledge is worth a straw- Ignorant and wanton as the dawn.
    • The trees are in their autumn beauty, The woodland paths are dry, Under the October twilight the water Mirrors a still sky.
    • Unwearied still, lover by lover, They paddle in the cold Companionable streams or climb the air; Their hearts have not grown old.
    • Some burn damp faggots, others may consume The entire combustible world in one small room As though dried straw, and if we turn about The bare chimney is gone black out Because the work had finished in that flare. Soldier, scholar, horseman, he, As 'twere all life's epitome. What made us dream that he could comb grey hair?
    • I had thought, seeing how bitter is that wind That shakes the shutter, to have brought to mind All those that manhood tried, or childhood loved Or boyish intellect approved, With some appropriate commentary on each; Until imagination brought A fitter welcome; but a thought Of that late death took all my heart for speech.
    • 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 county 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.
    • I know what wages beauty gives, How hard a life her servant lives, Yet praise the winters gone: There is not a fool can call me friend, And I may dine at journey's end With Landor and with Donne.
    • 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?
    • When have I last looked on The round green eyes and the long wavering bodies Of the dark leopards of the moon? All the wild witches, those most noble ladies, For all their broom-sticks and their tears, Their angry tears, are gone.
    • I knew a phoenix in my youth, so let them have their day.
    • Hands, do what you're bid: Bring the balloon of the mind That bellies and drags in the wind Into its narrow shed.
    • We have lit upon the gentle, sensitive mind And lost the old nonchalance of the hand; Whether we have chosen chisel, pen or brush, We are but critics, or but half create, Timid, entangled, empty and abashed, Lacking the countenance of our friends.
    • Minnaloushe creeps through the grass Alone, important and wise, And lifts to the changing moon His changing eyes.
    • Opinion is not worth a rush.
    • They say such different things at school.
    • Nothing that we love over-much Is ponderable to our touch.
    • 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.
    • 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?
    • I have met them at close of day Coming with vivid faces From counter or desk among grey Eighteenth-century houses. I have passed with a nod of the head Or polite meaningless words, Or have lingered awhile and said Polite meaningless words.
    • All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.
    • This other man I had dreamed A drunken, vain-glorious lout. He had done most bitter wrong To some who are near my heart, Yet I number him in the song; He, too, has resigned his part In the casual comedy; He, too, has been changed in his turn, Transformed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.
    • Hearts with one purpose alone Through summer and winter, seem Enchanted to a stone To trouble the living stream.
    • Minute by minute they live: The stone's in the midst of all.
    • Too long a sacrifice Can make a stone of the heart.
    • O when may it suffice? That is heaven's part, our part To murmur name upon name.
    • I write it out in a verse- MacDonagh and MacBride And Connolly and Pearse Now and in time to be, Wherever green is worn, Are changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.
    • 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.
    • 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 wise. 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.
    • 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?
    • 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.
    • Never had I more Excited, passionate, fantastical Imagination, nor an ear and eye That more expected the impossible.
    • Does the imagination dwell the most Upon a woman won or woman lost?
    • Much did I rage when young, Being by the world oppressed, But now with flattering tongue It speeds the parting guest.
    • Locke sank into a swoon; The Garden died; God took the spinning-jenny Out of his side.
    • Being so caught up, So mastered by the brute blood of the air, Did she put on his knowledge with his power Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?
    • 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?
    • The true faith discovered was When painted panel, statuary. Glass-mosaic, window-glass, Amended what was told awry By some peasant gospeller.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Many ingenious lovely things are gone That seemed sheer miracle to the multitude, protected from the circle of the moon That pitches common things about.
    • O what fine thought we had because we thought That the worst rogues and rascals had died out.
    • All teeth were drawn, all ancient tricks unlearned, And a great army but a showy thing; What matter that no cannon had been turned Into a ploughshare?
    • Now days are dragon-ridden, the nightmare Rides upon sleep: a drunken soldiery Can leave the mother, murdered at her door, To crawl in her own blood, and go scot-free.
    • The night can sweat with terror as before We pieced our thoughts into philosophy, And planned to bring the world under a rule, Who are but weasels fighting in a hole.
    • But is there any comfort to be found? Man is in love and loves what vanishes, What more is there to say?
    • O but we dreamed to mend Whatever mischief seemed To afflict mankind, but now That winds of winter blow Learn that we were crack-pated when we dreamed.
    • Come let us mock at the great That had such burdens on the mind And toiled so hard and late To leave some monument behind, Nor thought of the levelling wind.
    • Come let us mock at the wise; With all those calendars whereon They fixed old aching eyes, They never saw how seasons run, And now but gape at the sun.
    • Come let us mock at the good That fancied goodness might be gay, And sick of solitude Might proclaim a holiday: Wind shrieked- and where are they?
    • Mock mockers after that That would not lift a hand maybe To help good, wise or great To bar that foul storm out, for we Traffic in mockery.
    • Odour of blood when Christ was slain Made all platonic tolerance vain And vain all Doric discipline.
    • Everything that man esteems Endures a moment or a day. Love's pleasure drives his love away, The painter's brush consumes his dreams.
    • Whatever flames upon the night Man's own resinous heart has fed.
    • Whether they knew or not, Goldsmith and Burke, Swift and the Bishop of Cloyne All hated Whiggery; but what is Whiggery? A levelling, rancorous, rational sort of mind That never looked out of the eye of a saint Or out of drunkard's eye.
    • Only God, my dear, Could love you for yourself alone And not your yellow hair.
    • Swift has sailed into his rest; Savage indignation there Cannot lacerate his breast. Imitate him if you dare, World-besotted traveller; he Served human liberty.
    • 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.
    • The unpurged images of day recede; The Emperor's drunken soldiery are abed; Night resonance recedes, night walkers' song After great cathedral gong; A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains All that man is, All mere complexities, The fury and the mire of human veins.
    • At midnight on the Emperor's pavement flit Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit, Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame, Where blood-begotten spirits come And all complexities of fury leave, Dying into a dance, An agony of trance, An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.
    • Somewhere beyond the curtain Of distorting days Lives that lonely thing That shone before these eyes Targeted, trod like Spring.
    • '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.'
    • But Love has pitched his mansion in The place of excrement; For nothing can be sole or whole That has not been rent.
    • 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?
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • My Soul. Why should the imagination of a man Long past his prime remember things that are Emblematical of love and war? Think of ancestral night that can, If but imagination scorn the earth And intellect is wandering To this and that and t'other thing, Deliver from the crime of death and birth.
    • My Soul. Such fullness in that quarter overflows And falls into the basin of the mind That man is stricken deaf and dumb and blind, For intellect no longer knows Is from the Ought, or knower from the Known - That is to say, ascends to Heaven; Only the dead can be forgiven; But when I think of that my tongue's a stone.
    • What matter if I live it all once more? Endure that toil of growing up; The ignominy of boyhood; the distress Of boyhood changing into man; The unfinished man and his pain Brought face to face with his own clumsiness; The finished man among his enemies?- How in the name of Heaven can he escape That defiling and disfigured shape The mirror of malicious eyes Casts upon his eyes until at last He thinks that shape must be his shape?
    • I am content to live it all again And yet again, if it be life to pitch Into the frog-spawn of a blind man's ditch, A blind man battering blind men; Or into that most fecund ditch of all, The folly that man does Or must suffer, if he woos A proud woman not kindred of his soul.
    • I am content to follow to its source Every event in action or in thought; Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot! When such as I cast out remorse So great a sweetness flows into the breast We must laugh and we must sing, We are blest by everything, Everything we look upon is blest.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 blessed and could bless.
    • 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.
    • Seek out reality, leave things that seem.
    • God guard me from those thoughts men think In the mind alone; He that sings a lasting song Thinks in a marrow-bone.
    • I pray-for word is out And prayer comes round again- That I may seem, though I die old, A foolish, passionate man.
    • Whence had they come, The hand and lash that beat down frigid Rome? What sacred drama through her body heaved When world-transforming Charlemagne was conceived? Supernatural Songs, VIII, Whence Had They Come?
    • 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. Supernatural Songs, IX, The Four Ages of Man
    • All perform their tragic play, There struts Hamlet, there is Lear, That's Ophelia, that Cordelia.
    • Heaven blazing into the head: Tragedy wrought to its uttermost. Though Hamlet rambles and Lear rages, And all the drop-scenes drop at once Upon a hundred thousand stages, It cannot grow by an inch or an ounce.
    • Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes, Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.
    • If soul may look and body touch, Which is the more blest?
    • My temptation is quiet. Here at life's end Neither loose imagination, Nor the mill of the mind Consuming its rag and bone, Can make the truth known.
    • Grant me an old man's frenzy, Myself must I remake Till I am Timon and Lear Or that William Blake Who beat upon the wall Till Truth obeyed his call.
    • Hurrah for revolution and more cannon-shot! A beggar upon horseback lashes a beggar on foot. Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again! The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on.
    • You think it horrible that lust and rage Should dance attention upon my old age; They were not such a plague when I was young; What else have I to spur me into song?
    • You that would judge me, do not judge alone This book or that, come to this hallowed place Where my friends' portraits hang and look thereon; Ireland's history in their lineaments trace; Think where man's glory most begins and ends And say my glory was I had such friends.
    • Down the mountain walls From where pan's cavern is Intolerable music falls. Foul goat-head, brutal arm appear, Belly, shoulder, bum, Flash fishlike; nymphs and satyrs Copulate in the foam.
    • Like a long-legged fly upon the stream His mind moves upon silence.
    • A bloody and a sudden end, Gunshot or a noose, For Death who takes what man would keep, Leaves what man would lose.
    • Because there is safety in derision I talked about an apparition, I took no trouble to convince, Or seem plausible to a man of sense.
    • I have found nothing half so good As my long-planned half solitude, Where I can sit up half the night With some friend that has the wit Not to allow his looks to tell When I am unintelligible.
    • Players and painted stage took all my love, And not those things that they were emblems of.
    • Now that my ladder's gone, I must lie down where all the ladders start In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.
    • Irish poets, earn 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.
    • Under bare Ben Bulben's head In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
    • 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!
    • Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.
    • Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
    • I am of a healthy long lived race, and our minds improve with age.
    • Talent perceives differences, Genius unity.
    • Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.
    • You know what the Englishman's idea of compromise is? He says, some people say there is a God. Some people say there is no God. The truth probably lies somewhere between these two statements.
    • william butler yeats

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