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All Souls Night

Written by: William Butler Yeats | Biography
 | Quotes (173) |
 Epilogue to "A Vision'

MIDNIGHT has come, and the great Christ Church Bell
And may a lesser bell sound through the room;
And it is All Souls' Night,
And two long glasses brimmed with muscatel
Bubble upon the table.
A ghost may come; For it is a ghost's right, His element is so fine Being sharpened by his death, To drink from the wine-breath While our gross palates drink from the whole wine.
I need some mind that, if the cannon sound From every quarter of the world, can stay Wound in mind's pondering As mummies in the mummy-cloth are wound; Because I have a marvellous thing to say, A certain marvellous thing None but the living mock, Though not for sober ear; It may be all that hear Should laugh and weep an hour upon the clock.
Horton's the first I call.
He loved strange thought And knew that sweet extremity of pride That's called platonic love, And that to such a pitch of passion wrought Nothing could bring him, when his lady died, Anodyne for his love.
Words were but wasted breath; One dear hope had he: The inclemency Of that or the next winter would be death.
Two thoughts were so mixed up I could not tell Whether of her or God he thought the most, But think that his mind's eye, When upward turned, on one sole image fell; And that a slight companionable ghost, Wild with divinity, Had so lit up the whole Immense miraculous house The Bible promised us, It seemed a gold-fish swimming in a bowl.
On Florence Emery I call the next, Who finding the first wrinkles on a face Admired and beautiful, And knowing that the future would be vexed With 'minished beauty, multiplied commonplace, preferred to teach a school Away from neighbour or friend, Among dark skins, and there permit foul years to wear Hidden from eyesight to the unnoticed end.
Before that end much had she ravelled out From a discourse in figurative speech By some learned Indian On the soul's journey.
How it is whirled about, Wherever the orbit of the moon can reach, Until it plunge into the sun; And there, free and yet fast, Being both Chance and Choice, Forget its broken toys And sink into its own delight at last.
And I call up MacGregor from the grave, For in my first hard springtime we were friends.
Although of late estranged.
I thought him half a lunatic, half knave, And told him so, but friendship never ends; And what if mind seem changed, And it seem changed with the mind, When thoughts rise up unbid On generous things that he did And I grow half contented to be blind! He had much industry at setting out, Much boisterous courage, before loneliness Had driven him crazed; For meditations upon unknown thought Make human intercourse grow less and less; They are neither paid nor praised.
but he d object to the host, The glass because my glass; A ghost-lover he was And may have grown more arrogant being a ghost.
But names are nothing.
What matter who it be, So that his elements have grown so fine The fume of muscatel Can give his sharpened palate ecstasy No living man can drink from the whole wine.
I have mummy truths to tell Whereat the living mock, Though not for sober ear, For maybe all that hear Should laugh and weep an hour upon the clock.
Such thought -- such thought have I that hold it tight Till meditation master all its parts, Nothing can stay my glance Until that glance run in the world's despite To where the damned have howled away their hearts, And where the blessed dance; Such thought, that in it bound I need no other thing, Wound in mind's wandering As mummies in the mummy-cloth are wound.
Oxford, Autumn 1920



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