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William Butler Yeats - Romantic poetry
William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats 
(1865-1939).
Nobel Prize winning Irish dramatist, 
author and poet.
He wrote The Celtic Twilight (1893).


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.

The ragged Wood

O, hurry, where by water, among the trees,
The delicate-stepping stag and his lady sigh,
When they have 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.

The Sorrow of Love

The quarrel of the sparrow in the eaves,
The full round moon and the star-laden sky,
And the loud song of the ever-singing leaves,
Had hid away earth's old and weary cry.
And then you came with those red mournful lips,
And with you came the whole of the world's tears,
And all the sorrows of her labouring ships,
And all the burden of her myriad years.
And now the sparrows warring in the eaves,
The curd-pale moon, the white stars in the sky,
And the loud chaunting of the unquiet leaves,
Are shaken with earth's old and weary cry.

The Rose in the Deeps of his Heart

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. 

The wrong of unshapely things
is a wrong too great to be told,
I hunger to build them anew
and sit on a green knoll apart,

With the earth and the sky and the water,
remade, like a casket of gold
For my dreams of your image that blossoms 
a rose in the deeps of my heart.

Down by the salley Gardens

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

The Falling of the Leaves

Autumn is over the long leaves that love us, 
And over the mice in the barley sheaves; 
Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us, 
And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves. 
  
The hour of the waning of love has beset us, 
And weary and worn are our sad souls now; 
Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us, 
With a kiss and a tear on thy drooping brow.

Had I The Heavens'
Embroidered Cloths

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


O do not love too long


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.

To a young Girl

Y dear, my dear, I know 
More than another 
What makes your heart beat so; 
Not even your own mother 
Can know it as I know, 
Who broke my heart for her 
When the wild thought, 
That she denies 
And has forgot, 
Set all her blood astir 
And glittered in her eyes.

To the Rose upon the Rood of Time

The 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.

The Mask

‘Put off that mask of burning gold
With emerald eyes.’
‘O no, my dear, you make so bold
To find if hearts be wild and wise,
And yet not cold.’

‘I would but find what’s there to find,
Love or deceit.’
‘It was the mask engaged your mind,
And after set your heart to beat,
Not what’s behind.’

‘But lest you are my enemy,
I must enquire.’
‘Oh no, my dear, let all that be;
What matter, so there is but fire
In you, in me.’

The white Birds

WOULD that we were, my beloved, white birds on the foam of the sea! 
We tire of the flame of the meteor, before it can fade and flee; 
And the flame of the blue star of twilight, hung low on the rim of the sky, 
Has awakened in our hearts, my beloved, a sadness that may not die. 
  
A weariness comes from those dreamers, dew-dabbled, the lily and rose; 
Ah, dream not of them, my beloved, the flame of the meteor that goes, 
Or the flame of the blue star that lingers hung low in the fall of the dew: 
For I would we were changed to white birds on the wandering foam: I and you! 
  
I am haunted by numberless islands, and many a Danaan shore, 
Where Time would surely forget us, and Sorrow come near us no more; 
Soon far from the rose and the lily, and fret of the flames would we be, 
Were we only white birds, my beloved, buoyed out on the foam of the sea!


William Butler Yeats
(1865-1939)


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© Gaston D'Haese: 02-07-2007.
Update 18-06-2017.