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Adams Curse

Written by: William Butler Yeats | Biography
 | Quotes (173) |
 We sat together at one summer's end, 
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend, 
And you and I, and talked of poetry. 
I said, '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.' 

And thereupon 
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake 
There's many a one shall find out all heartache 
On finding that her voice is sweet and low 
Replied: 'To be born woman is to know--
Although they do not talk of it at school--
That we must labour to be beautiful.' 

I said, '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.' 

We sat grown quiet at the name of love; 
We saw the last embers of daylight die, 
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky 
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell 
Washed by time's waters as they rose and fell 
About the stars and broke in days and years. 

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.