W.B. Yeats quotes

W.B. Yeats photo
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W.B. Yeats

Birthdate: 13. June 1865
Date of death: 28. January 1939

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of the Irish literary establishment, he helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served two terms as a Senator of the Irish Free State. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and others.

Yeats was born in Sandymount, Ireland, and educated there and in London. He spent childhood holidays in County Sligo and studied poetry from an early age, when he became fascinated by Irish legends and the occult. These topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the 20th century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and its slow-paced and lyrical poems display debts to Edmund Spenser, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the poets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. From 1900, his poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Wikipedia

Works

„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;“

—  W.B. Yeats

St. 5
In The Seven Woods (1904), Adam's Curse http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1431/
Context: 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.

„The unavailing outcries and the old bitterness
That empty the heart.“

—  W.B. Yeats

In The Seven Woods http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1518/
In The Seven Woods (1904)
Context: I have heard the pigeons of the Seven Woods
Make their faint thunder, and the garden bees
Hum in the lime-tree flowers; and put away
The unavailing outcries and the old bitterness
That empty the heart. I have forgot awhile
Tara uprooted, and new commonness
Upon the throne and crying about the streets
And hanging its paper flowers from post to post,
Because it is alone of all things happy.
I am contented, for I know that Quiet
Wanders laughing and eating her wild heart
Among pigeons and bees, while that Great Archer,
Who but awaits His house to shoot, still hands
A cloudy quiver over Pairc-na-lee.

„For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.“

—  W.B. Yeats

Source: Selected Poems and Four Plays

„But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.“

—  W.B. Yeats

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1499/
Variant: I have spread my dreams under your feet.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Source: The Wind Among the Reeds (1899)
Context: Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with the golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

„O hurry to the ragged wood, for there
I will drive all those lovers out and cry—
O my share of the world, O yellow hair!
No one has ever loved but you and I.“

—  W.B. Yeats

The Ragged Wood http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1673/
In The Seven Woods (1904)
Context: p>O hurry where by water among the trees
The delicate-stepping stag and his lady sigh,
When they have but looked upon their images--
Would none had ever loved but you and I!Or have you heard that sliding silver-shoed
Pale silver-proud queen-woman of the sky,
When the sun looked out of his golden hood?--
O that none ever loved but you and I!O hurry to the ragged wood, for there
I will drive all those lovers out and cry—
O my share of the world, O yellow hair!
No one has ever loved but you and I.</p

„Song, let them take it,
For there’s more enterprise
In walking naked.“

—  W.B. Yeats

A Coat http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1393/
Responsibilities (1914)
Context: I made my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world’s eyes
As though they’d wrought it.
Song, let them take it,
For there’s more enterprise
In walking naked.

„But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.“

—  W.B. Yeats, book The Winding Stair and Other Poems

Crazy Jane Talks With The Bishop, st. 3
The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933)

„These are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye.“

—  W.B. Yeats

These Are The Clouds http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1715/
The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910)
Context: Have you made greatness your companion,
Although it be for children that you sigh:
These are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye.

„Some may have blamed you that you took away
The verses that could move them on the day“

—  W.B. Yeats

Reconciliation http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1568/
The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910)
Context: Some may have blamed you that you took away
The verses that could move them on the day
When, the ears being deafened, the sight of the eyes blind
With lightning, you went from me, and I could find
Nothing to make a song about but kings,
Helmets, and swords, and half-forgotten things
That were like memories of you--but now
We'll out, for the world lives as long ago;
And while we're in our laughing, weeping fit,
Hurl helmets, crowns, and swords into the pit.
But, dear, cling close to me; since you were gone,
My barren thoughts have chilled me to the bone.

„The finished man among his enemies?—
How in the name of Heaven can he escape
That defiling and disfigured shape
The mirror of malicious eyes
Casts upon his eyes until at last
He thinks that shape must be his shape?“

—  W.B. Yeats, book The Winding Stair and Other Poems

II, st. 1
The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933), A Dialogue of Self and Soul http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1397/
Context: What matter if I live it all once more?
Endure that toil of growing up;
The ignominy of boyhood; the distress
Of boyhood changing into man;
The unfinished man and his pain
Brought face to face with his own clumsiness;
The finished man among his enemies?—
How in the name of Heaven can he escape
That defiling and disfigured shape
The mirror of malicious eyes
Casts upon his eyes until at last
He thinks that shape must be his shape?

„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.“

—  W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming

The Second Coming (1919)
Context: p>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: a waste of desert sand;
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
Wind 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?</p

„With lightning, you went from me, and I could find
Nothing to make a song about“

—  W.B. Yeats

Reconciliation http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1568/
The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910)
Context: Some may have blamed you that you took away
The verses that could move them on the day
When, the ears being deafened, the sight of the eyes blind
With lightning, you went from me, and I could find
Nothing to make a song about but kings,
Helmets, and swords, and half-forgotten things
That were like memories of you--but now
We'll out, for the world lives as long ago;
And while we're in our laughing, weeping fit,
Hurl helmets, crowns, and swords into the pit.
But, dear, cling close to me; since you were gone,
My barren thoughts have chilled me to the bone.

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