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Best Famous William Butler Yeats Poems

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Written by William Butler Yeats | |

When You are Old

WHEN you are old and gray 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.


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray, I hear it in the deep heart's core.


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

THE SONG OF WANDERING AENGUS

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire aflame, But something rustled on the floor, And someone called me by my name: It had become a glimmering girl With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.


More great poems below...

Written by Joyce Kilmer | |

Easter Week

 (In memory of Joseph Mary Plunkett)

("Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,
It's with O'Leary in the grave.
") William Butler Yeats.
"Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, It's with O'Leary in the grave.
" Then, Yeats, what gave that Easter dawn A hue so radiantly brave? There was a rain of blood that day, Red rain in gay blue April weather.
It blessed the earth till it gave birth To valour thick as blooms of heather.
Romantic Ireland never dies! O'Leary lies in fertile ground, And songs and spears throughout the years Rise up where patriot graves are found.
Immortal patriots newly dead And ye that bled in bygone years, What banners rise before your eyes? What is the tune that greets your ears? The young Republic's banners smile For many a mile where troops convene.
O'Connell Street is loudly sweet With strains of Wearing of the Green.
The soil of Ireland throbs and glows With life that knows the hour is here To strike again like Irishmen For that which Irishmen hold dear.
Lord Edward leaves his resting place And Sarsfield's face is glad and fierce.
See Emmet leap from troubled sleep To grasp the hand of Padraic Pearse! There is no rope can strangle song And not for long death takes his toll.
No prison bars can dim the stars Nor quicklime eat the living soul.
Romantic Ireland is not old.
For years untold her youth will shine.
Her heart is fed on Heavenly bread, The blood of martyrs is her wine.


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

Parnell

 Parnell came down the road, he said to a cheering man:
'Ireland shall get her freedom and you still break stone.
'


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

Statistics

 'Those Platonists are a curse,' he said,
'God's fire upon the wane,
A diagram hung there instead,
More women born than men.
'


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

Never Give All The Heart

 Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that's lovely is
But a brief, dreamy.
Kind delight.
O never give the heart outright, For they, for all smooth lips can say, Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough If deaf and dumb and blind with love? He that made this knows all the cost, For he gave all his heart and lost.


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

Remorse For Intemperate Speech

 I ranted to the knave and fool,
But outgrew that school,
Would transform the part,
Fit audience found, but cannot rule
My fanatic heart.
I sought my betters: though in each Fine manners, liberal speech, Turn hatred into sport, Nothing said or done can reach My fanatic heart.
Out of Ireland have we come.
Great hatred, little room, Maimed us at the start.
I carry from my mother's womb A fanatic heart.


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

Girls Song

 I went out alone
To sing a song or two,
My fancy on a man,
And you know who.
Another came in sight That on a stick relied To hold himself upright; I sat and cried.
And that was all my song - When everything is told, Saw I an old man young Or young man old?


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

A Prayer For Old Age

 God guard me from those thoughts men think
In the mind alone;
He that sings a lasting song
Thinks in a marrow-bone;

From all that makes a wise old man
That can be praised of all;
O what am I that I should not seem
For the song's sake a fool?

I pray -- for word is out
And prayer comes round again --
That I may seem, though I die old,
A foolish, passionate man.


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

Sailing To Byzantium

 I

That is no country for old men.
The young In one another's arms, birds in the trees - Those dying generations - at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unageing intellect.
II An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress, Nor is there singing school but studying Monuments of its own magnificence; And therefore I have sailed the seas and come To the holy city of Byzantium.
III O sages standing in God's holy fire As in the gold mosaic of a wall, Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre, And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire And fastened to a dying animal It knows not what it is; and gather me Into the artifice of eternity.
IV Once out of nature I shall never take My bodily form from any natural thing, But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make Of hammered gold and gold enamelling To keep a drowsy Emperor awake; Or set upon a golden bough to sing To lords and ladies of Byzantium Of what is past, or passing, or to come.


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

The Ladys Second Song

 What sort of man is coming
To lie between your feet?
What matter, we are but women.
Wash; make your body sweet; I have cupboards of dried fragrance.
I can strew the sheet.
The Lord have mercy upon us.
He shall love my soul as though Body were not at all, He shall love your body Untroubled by the soul, Love cram love's two divisions Yet keep his substance whole.
The Lord have mercy upon us.
Soul must learn a love that is proper to my breast, Limbs a Love in common With every noble beast.
If soul may look and body touch, Which is the more blest? The Lord have mercy upon us.


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

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.
'


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

A Song From The Player Queen

 My mother dandled me and sang,
'How young it is, how young!'
And made a golden cradle
That on a willow swung.
'He went away,' my mother sang, 'When I was brought to bed,' And all the while her needle pulled The gold and silver thread.
She pulled the thread and bit the thread And made a golden gown, And wept because she had dreamt that I Was born to wear a crown.
'When she was got,' my mother sang, I heard a sea-mew cry, And saw a flake of the yellow foam That dropped upon my thigh.
' How therefore could she help but braid The gold into my hair, And dream that I should carry The golden top of care?


Written by William Butler Yeats | |

The Second Coming

 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 Mundi 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?