Collected Poems - William Butler Yeats - ebook

William Butler Yeats ( 13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature as the first Irishman so honoured for what the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation". Yeats is considered to be one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933).

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Collected Poems


William Butler Yeats

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From Crossways (1889) The Song of the Happy Shepherd The Indian Upon God The Falling of the Leaves Ephemera The Madness of King Goll Down by the Salley Gardens The Meditation of the Old Fisherman

From The Rose (1893) To the Rose Upon the Rood of Time The Rose of the World The Rose of Battle A Dream of Death The Countess Cathleen in Paradise Who Goes with Fergus? The Man Who Dreamed of Faeryland The Dedication to a Book of Stories Selected From the Irish Novelists The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner To Some i Have Talked with by the Fire

From The Wind Among the Reeds (1899) The Host of the Air Into the Twilight The Song of Wandering Aengus He Bids His Beloved Be at Peace He Remembers Forgotten Beauty A Poet to His Beloved The Valley of the Black Pig The Lover Asks Forgiveness Because of His Many Moods He Tells of a Valley Full of Lovers He Hears the Cry of the Sedge The Blessed The Travail of Passion The Lover Pleads with His Friend for Old Friends He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven He Thinks of His Past Greatness When a Part of the Constellations of Heaven The Fiddler of Dooney

From In the Seven Woods (1904) In the Seven Woods Adam’s Curse The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water O Do Not Love Too Long The Players Ask for a Blessing on the Psalteries and on Themselves

From The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910) No Second Troy Reconciliation Peace The Coming of Wisdom with Time The Mask At the Abbey Theatre A Friend’s Illness Brown Penny

From Responsibilities (1914) The Grey Rock On Those That Hated “The Playboy of the Western World” A Song From “The Player Queen” The Mountain Tomb The Cold Heaven That the Night Come An Appointment The Dolls

From The Wild Swans at Coole (1919) An Irish Airman Foresees His Death Men Improve with the Years A Song The Fisherman The Hawk His Phoenix Broken Dreams Presences In Memory of Alfred Pollexfen The Phases of the Moon The Cat and the Moon The Saint and the Hunchback The Double Vision of Michael Robartes

From Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1921) Michael Robartes and the Dancer Solomon and the Witch Sixteen Dead Men The Leaders of the Crowd Demon and Beast The Second Coming A Prayer for My Daughter A Meditation in Time of War

From The Tower (1928) Meditations in Time of Civil War Fragments On a Picture of a Black Centaur by Edmund Dulac Among School Children The Fool by the Roadside Owen Aherne and His Dancers The Three Monuments All Souls’ Night

From The Winding Stair and Other Poems In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz A Dialogue of Self and Soul Spilt Milk The Nineteenth Century and After The Seven Sages The Crazed Moon For Anne Gregory Swift’s Epitaph Mohini Chatterjee The Mother of God Quarrel in Old Age The Results of Thought Remorse for Intemperate Speech Stream and Sun at Glendalough

From A Full Moon in March (1935) Parnell’s Funeral Alternative Song for the Severed Head in “The King of the Great Clock Tower” Church and State

From Last Poems (1936-1939) Are You Content? Beautiful Lofty Things The Black Tower Colonel Martin A Crazed Girl Crazy Jane on the Mountain Cuchulain Comforted The Curse of Cromwell High Talk Easter 1916 Imitated From the Japanese The Lady’s Second Song Long-Legged Fly The Lover’s Song The Man and the Echo A Nativity News for the Delphic Oracle The Old Stone Cross Parnell Lapis Lazuli Politics Roger Casement The Statues The Statesman’s Holiday A Stick of Incense

Baile and Aillinn (1903)

From The Shadowy Waters (1906) The Harp of Aengus

The Gift of Harun Al-Rashid (1923)

From Crossways (1889)

The Song of the Happy Shepherd

THE woods of Arcady are dead,

And over is their antique joy;

Of old the world on dreaming fed;

Grey Truth is now her painted toy;

Yet still she turns her restless head:

But O, sick children of the world,

Of all the many changing things

In dreary dancing past us whirled,

To the cracked tune that Chronos sings,

Words alone are certain good.

Where are now the warring kings,

Word be-mockers? — By the Rood,

Where are now the warring kings?

An idle word is now their glory,

By the stammering schoolboy said,

Reading some entangled story:

The kings of the old time are dead;

The wandering earth herself may be

Only a sudden flaming word,

In clanging space a moment heard,

Troubling the endless reverie.

Then nowise worship dusty deeds,

Nor seek, for this is also sooth,

To hunger fiercely after truth,

Lest all thy toiling only breeds

New dreams, new dreams; there is no truth

Saving in thine own heart. Seek, then,

No learning from the starry men,

Who follow with the optic glass

The whirling ways of stars that pass —

Seek, then, for this is also sooth,

No word of theirs — the cold star-bane

Has cloven and rent their hearts in twain,

And dead is all their human truth.

Go gather by the humming sea

Some twisted, echo-harbouring shell.

And to its lips thy story tell,

And they thy comforters will be.

Rewording in melodious guile

Thy fretful words a little while,

Till they shall singing fade in ruth

And die a pearly brotherhood;

For words alone are certain good:

Sing, then, for this is also sooth.

I must be gone: there is a grave

Where daffodil and lily wave,

And I would please the hapless faun,

Buried under the sleepy ground,

With mirthful songs before the dawn.

His shouting days with mirth were crowned;

And still I dream he treads the lawn,

Walking ghostly in the dew,

Pierced by my glad singing through,

My songs of old earth’s dreamy youth:

But ah! she dreams not now; dream thou!

For fair are poppies on the brow:

Dream, dream, for this is also sooth.

The Indian Upon God

I PASSED along the water’s edge below the humid trees,

My spirit rocked in evening light, the rushes round my knees,

My spirit rocked in sleep and sighs; and saw the moor-fowl pace

All dripping on a grassy slope, and saw them cease to chase

Each other round in circles, and heard the eldest speak:

Who holds the world between His bill and made us strong or weak

Is an undying moorfowl, and He lives beyond the sky.

The rains are from His dripping wing, the moonbeams fromHis eye.

I passed a little further on and heard a lotus talk:

Who made the world and ruleth it, He hangeth on a stalk,

For I am in His image made, and all this tinkling tide

Is but a sliding drop of rain between His petals wide.

A little way within the gloom a roebuck raised his eyes

Brimful of starlight, and he said: The Stamper of the Skies,

He is a gentle roebuck; for how else, I pray, could He

Conceive a thing so sad and soft, a gentle thing like me?

I passed a little further on and heard a peacock say:

Who made the grass and made the worms and made my feathersgay,

He is a monstrous peacock, and He waveth all the night

His languid tail above us, lit with myriad spots of light.

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.


“YOUR eyes that once were never weary of mine

Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,

Because our love is waning.”

And then She:

“Although our love is waning, let us stand

By the lone border of the lake once more,

Together in that hour of gentleness

When the poor tired child, passion, falls asleep.

How far away the stars seem, and how far

Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!”

Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,

While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:

“Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.”

The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves

Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once

A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;

Autumn was over him: and now they stood

On the lone border of the lake once more:

Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves

Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,

In bosom and hair.

“Ah, do not mourn,” he said,

“That we are tired, for other loves await us;

Hate on and love through unrepining hours.

Before us lies eternity; our souls

Are love, and a continual farewell.”

The Madness of King Goll

I SAT on cushioned otter-skin:

My word was law from Ith to Emain,

And shook at Inver Amergin

The hearts of the world-troubling seamen,

And drove tumult and war away

From girl and boy and man and beast;

The fields grew fatter day by day,

The wild fowl of the air increased;

And every ancient Ollave said,

While he bent down his fading head.

“He drives away the Northern cold.”

They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.

I sat and mused and drank sweet wine;

A herdsman came from inland valleys,

Crying, the pirates drove his swine

To fill their dark-beaked hollow galleys.

I called my battle-breaking men

And my loud brazen battle-cars

From rolling vale and rivery glen;

And under the blinking of the stars

Fell on the pirates by the deep,

And hurled them in the gulph of sleep:

These hands won many a torque of gold.

They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.

But slowly, as I shouting slew

And trampled in the bubbling mire,

In my most secret spirit grew

A whirling and a wandering fire:

I stood: keen stars above me shone,

Around me shone keen eyes of men:

I laughed aloud and hurried on

By rocky shore and rushy fen;

I laughed because birds fluttered by,

And starlight gleamed, and clouds flew high,

And rushes waved and waters rolled.

They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.

And now I wander in the woods

When summer gluts the golden bees,

Or in autumnal solitudes

Arise the leopard-coloured trees;

Or when along the wintry strands

The cormorants shiver on their rocks;

I wander on, and wave my hands,

And sing, and shake my heavy locks.

The grey wolf knows me; by one ear

I lead along the woodland deer;

The hares run by me growing bold.

They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.

I came upon a little town

That slumbered in the harvest moon,

And passed a-tiptoe up and down,

Murmuring, to a fitful tune,

How I have followed, night and day,

A tramping of tremendous feet,

And saw where this old tympan lay

Deserted on a doorway seat,

And bore it to the woods with me;

Of some inhuman misery

Our married voices wildly trolled.

They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.

I sang how, when day’s toil is done,

Orchil shakes out her long dark hair

That hides away the dying sun

And sheds faint odours through the air:

When my hand passed from wire to wire

It quenched, with sound like falling dew

The whirling and the wandering fire;

But lift a mournful ulalu,

For the kind wires are torn and still,

And I must wander wood and hill

Through summer’s heat and winter’s cold.

They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old.

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 Meditation of the Old Fisherman

YOU waves, though you dance by my feet like children at play,

Though you glow and you glance, though you purr and you dart;

In the Junes that were warmer than these are, the waves were more gay,

When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart.

The herring are not in the tides as they were of old;

My sorrow! for many a creak gave the creel in the-cart

That carried the take to Sligo town to be sold,

When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart.

And ah, you proud maiden, you are not so fair when his oar

Is heard on the water, as they were, the proud and apart,

Who paced in the eve by the nets on the pebbly shore,

When I was a boy with never a crack in my heart.

From The Rose (1893)

To the Rose Upon the Rood of Time

Red 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, where of 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 bear 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 Rose of the World

WHO dreamed that beauty passes like a dream?

For these red lips, with all their mournful pride,

Mournful that no new wonder may betide,

Troy passed away in one high funeral gleam,

And Usna’s children died.

We and the labouring world are passing by:

Amid men’s souls, that waver and give place

Like the pale waters in their wintry race,

Under the passing stars, foam of the sky,

Lives on this lonely face.

Bow down, archangels, in your dim abode:

Before you were, or any hearts to beat,

Weary and kind one lingered by His seat;

He made the world to be a grassy road

Before her wandering feet.

The Rose of Battle

ROSE of all Roses, Rose of all the World!

The tall thought-woven sails, that flap unfurled

Above the tide of hours, trouble the air,

And God’s bell buoyed to be the water’s care;

While hushed from fear, or loud with hope, a band

With blown, spray-dabbled hair gather at hand,

Turn if you may from battles never done,

I call, as they go by me one by one,

Danger no refuge holds, and war no peace,

For him who hears love sing and never cease,

Beside her clean-swept hearth, her quiet shade:

But gather all for whom no love hath made

A woven silence, or but came to cast

A song into the air, and singing passed

To smile on the pale dawn; and gather you

Who have sought more than is in rain or dew,

Or in the sun and moon, or on the earth,

Or sighs amid the wandering, starry mirth,

Or comes in laughter from the sea’s sad lips,

And wage God’s battles in the long grey ships.

The sad, the lonely, the insatiable,

To these Old Night shall all her mystery tell;