Easter 1916

W. B. Yeats

 
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,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our wingèd horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious 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.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute to 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,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
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.
 

Poems by This Author

A Drinking Song by W. B. Yeats
Wine comes in at the mouth
A Prayer for my Daughter by W. B. Yeats
Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Adam's Curse by W. B. Yeats
We sat together at one summer's end
Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by W. B. Yeats
Had I the heavensí embroidered cloths
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by W. B. Yeats
I know that I shall meet my fate
Leda and the Swan by W. B. Yeats
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Never give all the heart by W. B. Yeats
Never give all the heart, for love
Sailing to Byzantium by W. B. Yeats
That is no country for old men. The young
The Balloon of the Mind by W. B. Yeats
Hands, do what you're bid
The Fisherman by W. B. Yeats
Although I can see him still
The Heart of the Woman by W. B. Yeats
O what to me the little room
The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W. B. Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree
The Living Beauty by W. B. Yeats
I bade, because the wick and oil are spent
The Magi by W. B. Yeats
Now as at all times I can see in the mind's eye
The Moods by W. B. Yeats
Time drops in decay
The Player Queen by W. B. Yeats
My mother dandled me and sang
The Second Coming by W. B. Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The Song of Wandering Aengus by W. B. Yeats
I went out to the hazel wood
The Sorrow of Love by W. B. Yeats
The quarrel of the sparrows in the eaves
The Stolen Child by W. B. Yeats
Where dips the rocky highland
The Tower by W. B. Yeats
What shall I do with this absurdity
The Wild Swans at Coole by W. B. Yeats
The trees are in their autumn beauty
The Young Man's Song by W. B. Yeats
I whispered,
When You are Old by W. B. Yeats
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
Who goes with Fergus? by W. B. Yeats
Who will go drive with Fergus now


Further Reading

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