Portrait by his father John Butler Yeats 1900

William butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)


    The Old Men Admiring Themselves In The Water

    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."

    When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
    And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
    And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
    Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

    How many loved your moments of glad grace,
    And loved your beauty with love false or true,
    But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
    And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

    And bending down beside the glowing bars,
    Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
    And paced upon the mountains overhead
    And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

    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.

    Section of the Ox Mountains and Ballysadare Bay,

    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 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,  
    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.

    Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - The Sacrifice of Iphigenia

    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.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.  
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out  
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mund,
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert 
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,  
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it  
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.  
    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?