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.

Works

„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.

„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.

„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.

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„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.“

—  W.B. Yeats

To The Rose Upon The Rood Of Time
The Rose (1893)
Context: Come near, come near, come near — Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
Lest I no more hear 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.

„Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain“

—  W.B. Yeats

Never Give All The Heart http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1545/
In The Seven Woods (1904)
Context: 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 of 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.

„I gave what other women gave
That stepped out of their clothes.
But when this soul, its body off,
Naked to naked goes,
He it has found shall find therein
What none other knows“

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

A Last Confession http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1404/, St. 3 & 4
The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933)
Context: p>I gave what other women gave
That stepped out of their clothes.
But when this soul, its body off,
Naked to naked goes,
He it has found shall find therein
What none other knows,And give his own and take his own
And rule in his own right;
And though it loved in misery
Close and cling so tight,
There’s not a bird of day that dare
Extinguish that delight.</p

„Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.“

—  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.

„Everything that man esteems
Endures a moment or a day.“

—  W.B. Yeats, book The Tower

II, st. 2
The Tower (1928), Two Songs From a Play http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1741/
Context: Everything that man esteems
Endures a moment or a day.
Love’s pleasure drives his love away,
The painter’s brush consumes his dreams.

„Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.“

—  W.B. Yeats

To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Nothing http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1723/
Responsibilities (1914)
Context: Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honour bred, with one
Who, were it proved he lies,
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbours’ eyes?
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.

„Come near, come near, come near — Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!“

—  W.B. Yeats

To The Rose Upon The Rood Of Time
The Rose (1893)
Context: Come near, come near, come near — Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
Lest I no more hear 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.

„Yet she, singing upon her road,
Half lion, half child, is at peace.“

—  W.B. Yeats

Against Unworthy Praise http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1433/
The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910)
Context: p>O heart, be at peace, because
Nor knave nor dolt can break
What's not for their applause
Being for a woman's sake.
Enough if the work has seemed,
So did she your strength renew,
A dream that a lion had dreamed
Till the wilderness cried aloud,
A secret between you two,
Between the proud and the proud.What, still you would have their praise!
But here's a haughtier text,
The labyrinth of her days
That her own strangeness perplexed;
And how what her dreaming gave
Earned slander, ingratitude,
From self-same dolt and knave;
Aye, and worse wrong than these.
Yet she, singing upon her road,
Half lion, half child, is at peace.</p

„All that sternness amid charm,
All that sweetness amid strength?“

—  W.B. Yeats

Peace http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/1564/
The Green Helmet and Other Poems (1910)
Context: Ah, that Time could touch a form
That could show what Homer's age
Bred to be a hero's wage.
'Were not all her life but a storm,
Would not painters pain a form
Of such noble lines,' I said,
'Such a delicate high head,
All that sternness amid charm,
All that sweetness amid strength?
Ah, but peace that comes at length,
Came when Time had touched her form.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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