The Project Gutenberg eBook of Responsibilities, and other poems

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: Responsibilities, and other poems

Author: W. B. Yeats

Illustrator: T. Sturge Moore

Release date: July 27, 2011 [eBook #36865]
Most recently updated: January 7, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Meredith Bach, David Garcia and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


(front cover)






MACMILLAN & CO., Limited





New York

All rights reserved


Copyright, 1911

Copyright, 1904, 1908, and 1912

Copyright, 1916
Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1916.



Responsibilities, 1912-1914—
Introductory Rhymes 1
The Grey Rock 3
The Two Kings 11
To a Wealthy Man 29
September 1913 32
To a Friend whose Work has come to Nothing 34
Paudeen 35
To a Shade 36
When Helen Lived 39
The Attack on 'The Playboy of the Western World,'—1907 40
The Three Beggars 41
The Three Hermits 45
Beggar to Beggar cried 47
The Well and the Tree 49
Running to Paradise 50
The Hour before Dawn 52
The Player Queen 59
The Realists 61
The Witch 62
The Peacock 63
[vi] The Mountain Tomb 64
To a Child dancing in the Wind 66
A Memory of Youth 68
Fallen Majesty 70
Friends 71
The Cold Heaven 73
That the Night come 75
An Appointment 76
The Magi 77
The Dolls 78
A Coat 80
Closing Rhymes 81
From the Green Helmet and other Poems, 1909-1912—
His Dream 85
A Woman Homer sung 87
The Consolation 89
No Second Troy 91
Reconciliation 92
King and No King 94
Peace 96
Against Unworthy Praise 97
The Fascination of What's Difficult 99
A Drinking Song 101
The Coming of Wisdom with Time 102
On hearing that the Students of our New University have joined the Ancient Order of Hibernians 103
To a Poet 104
[vii] The Mask 105
Upon a House shaken by the Land Agitation 106
At the Abbey Theatre 108
These are the Clouds 110
At Galway Races 112
A Friend's Illness 113
All Things can tempt me 114
The Young Man's Song 115
The Hour-Glass—1912 117
Notes 181



'In dreams begins responsibility.'

Old Play.

'How am I fallen from myself, for a long time now

I have not seen the Prince of Chang in my dreams.'








Pardon, old fathers, if you still remain

Somewhere in ear-shot for the story's end,

Old Dublin merchant 'free of ten and four'

Or trading out of Galway into Spain;

And country scholar, Robert Emmet's friend,

A hundred-year-old memory to the poor;

Traders or soldiers who have left me blood

That has not passed through any huxter's loin,

Pardon, and you that did not weigh the cost,

Old Butlers when you took to horse and stood

Beside the brackish waters of the Boyne

Till your bad master blenched and all was lost;

[2] You merchant skipper that leaped overboard

After a ragged hat in Biscay Bay,

You most of all, silent and fierce old man

Because you were the spectacle that stirred

My fancy, and set my boyish lips to say

'Only the wasteful virtues earn the sun';

Pardon that for a barren passion's sake,

Although I have come close on forty-nine

I have no child, I have nothing but a book,

Nothing but that to prove your blood and mine.

January 1914.



Poets with whom I learned my trade,

Companions of the Cheshire Cheese,

Here's an old story I've re-made,

Imagining 'twould better please

Your ears than stories now in fashion,

Though you may think I waste my breath

Pretending that there can be passion

That has more life in it than death,

And though at bottling of your wine

The bow-legged Goban had no say;

The moral's yours because it's mine.

When cups went round at close of day—

Is not that how good stories run?—

Somewhere within some hollow hill,

[4] If books speak truth in Slievenamon,

But let that be, the gods were still

And sleepy, having had their meal,

And smoky torches made a glare

On painted pillars, on a deal

Of fiddles and of flutes hung there

By the ancient holy hands that brought them

From murmuring Murias, on cups—

Old Goban hammered them and wrought them,

And put his pattern round their tops

To hold the wine they buy of him.

But from the juice that made them wise

All those had lifted up the dim

Imaginations of their eyes,

For one that was like woman made

Before their sleepy eyelids ran

And trembling with her passion said,

'Come out and dig for a dead man,

Who's burrowing somewhere in the ground,

[5] And mock him to his face and then

Hollo him on with horse and hound,

For he is the worst of all dead men.'

We should be dazed and terror struck,

If we but saw in dreams that room,

Those wine-drenched eyes, and curse our luck

That emptied all our days to come.

I knew a woman none could please,

Because she dreamed when but a child

Of men and women made like these;

And after, when her blood ran wild,

Had ravelled her own story out,

And said, 'In two or in three years

I need must marry some poor lout,'

And having said it burst in tears.

Since, tavern comrades, you have died,

Maybe your images have stood,

Mere bone and muscle thrown aside,

Before that roomful or as good.

You had to face your ends when young—

'Twas wine or women, or some curse—

[6] But never made a poorer song

That you might have a heavier purse,

Nor gave loud service to a cause

That you might have a troop of friends.

You kept the Muses' sterner laws,

And unrepenting faced your ends,

And therefore earned the right—and yet

Dowson and Johnson most I praise—

To troop with those the world's forgot,

And copy their proud steady gaze.

'The Danish troop was driven out

Between the dawn and dusk,' she said;

'Although the event was long in doubt,

Although the King of Ireland's dead

And half the kings, before sundown

All was accomplished.'

'When this day

Murrough, the King of Ireland's son,

Foot after foot was giving way,

[7] He and his best troops back to back

Had perished there, but the Danes ran,

Stricken with panic from the attack,

The shouting of an unseen man;

And being thankful Murrough found,

Led by a footsole dipped in blood

That had made prints upon the ground,

Where by old thorn trees that man stood;

And though when he gazed here and there,

He had but gazed on thorn trees, spoke,

"Who is the friend that seems but air

And yet could give so fine a stroke?"

Thereon a young man met his eye,

Who said, "Because she held me in

Her love, and would not have me die,

Rock-nurtured Aoife took a pin,

And pushing it into my shirt,

Promised that for a pin's sake,

No man should see to do me hurt;

But there it's gone; I will not take

[8] The fortune that had been my shame

Seeing, King's son, what wounds you have."

'Twas roundly spoke, but when night came

He had betrayed me to his grave,

For he and the King's son were dead.

I'd promised him two hundred years,

And when for all I'd done or said—

And these immortal eyes shed tears—

He claimed his country's need was most,

I'd save his life, yet for the sake

Of a new friend he has turned a ghost.

What does he care if my heart break?

I call for spade and horse and hound

That we may harry him.' Thereon

She cast herself upon the ground

And rent her clothes and made her moan:

'Why are they faithless when their might

Is from the holy shades that rove

[9] The grey rock and the windy light?

Why should the faithfullest heart most love

The bitter sweetness of false faces?

Why must the lasting love what passes,

Why are the gods by men betrayed!'

But thereon every god stood up

With a slow smile and without sound,

And stretching forth his arm and cup

To where she moaned upon the ground,

Suddenly drenched her to the skin;

And she with Goban's wine adrip,

No more remembering what had been,

Stared at the gods with laughing lip.

I have kept my faith, though faith was tried,

To that rock-born, rock-wandering foot,

And the world's altered since you died,

And I am in no good repute

[10] With the loud host before the sea,

That think sword strokes were better meant

Than lover's music—let that be,

So that the wandering foot's content.



King Eochaid came at sundown to a wood

Westward of Tara. Hurrying to his queen

He had out-ridden his war-wasted men

That with empounded cattle trod the mire;

And where beech trees had mixed a pale green light

With the ground-ivy's blue, he saw a stag

Whiter than curds, its eyes the tint of the sea.

Because it stood upon his path and seemed

More hands in height than any stag in the world

[12] He sat with tightened rein and loosened mouth

Upon his trembling horse, then drove the spur;

But the stag stooped and ran at him, and passed,

Rending the horse's flank. King Eochaid reeled

Then drew his sword to hold its levelled point

Against the stag. When horn and steel were met

The horn resounded as though it had been silver,

A sweet, miraculous, terrifying sound.

Horn locked in sword, they tugged and struggled there

As though a stag and unicorn were met

In Africa on Mountain of the Moon,

Until at last the double horns, drawn backward,

Butted below the single and so pierced

[13] The entrails of the horse. Dropping his sword

King Eochaid seized the horns in his strong hands

And stared into the sea-green eye, and so

Hither and thither to and fro they trod

Till all the place was beaten into mire.

The strong thigh and the agile thigh were met,

The hands that gathered up the might of the world,

And hoof and horn that had sucked in their speed

Amid the elaborate wilderness of the air.

Through bush they plunged and over ivied root,

And where the stone struck fire, while in the leaves

A squirrel whinnied and a bird screamed out;

But when at last he forced those sinewy flanks

[14] Against a beech bole, he threw down the beast

And knelt above it with drawn knife. On the instant

It vanished like a shadow, and a cry

So mournful that it seemed the cry of one

Who had lost some unimaginable treasure

Wandered between the blue and the green leaf

And climbed into the air, crumbling away,

Till all had seemed a shadow or a vision

But for the trodden mire, the pool of blood,

The disembowelled horse.

King Eochaid ran,

Toward peopled Tara, nor stood to draw his breath

Until he came before the painted wall,

The posts of polished yew, circled with bronze,

[15] Of the great door; but though the hanging lamps

Showed their faint light through the unshuttered windows,

Nor door, nor mouth, nor slipper made a noise,

Nor on the ancient beaten paths, that wound

From well-side or from plough-land, was there noise;

And there had been no sound of living thing

Before him or behind, but that far-off

On the horizon edge bellowed the herds.

Knowing that silence brings no good to kings,

And mocks returning victory, he passed

Between the pillars with a beating heart

And saw where in the midst of the great hall

Pale-faced, alone upon a bench, Edain

[16] Sat upright with a sword before her feet.

Her hands on either side had gripped the bench,

Her eyes were cold and steady, her lips tight.

Some passion had made her stone. Hearing a foot

She started and then knew whose foot it was;

But when he thought to take her in his arms

She motioned him afar, and rose and spoke:

'I have sent among the fields or to the woods

The fighting men and servants of this house,

For I would have your judgment upon one

Who is self-accused. If she be innocent

She would not look in any known man's face

[17] Till judgment has been given, and if guilty,

Will never look again on known man's face.'

And at these words he paled, as she had paled,

Knowing that he should find upon her lips

The meaning of that monstrous day.

Then she:

'You brought me where your brother Ardan sat

Always in his one seat, and bid me care him

Through that strange illness that had fixed him there,

And should he die to heap his burial mound

And carve his name in Ogham.' Eochaid said,

'He lives?' 'He lives and is a healthy man.'

[18] 'While I have him and you it matters little

What man you have lost, what evil you have found.'

'I bid them make his bed under this roof

And carried him his food with my own hands,

And so the weeks passed by. But when I said

"What is this trouble?" he would answer nothing,

Though always at my words his trouble grew;

And I but asked the more, till he cried out,

Weary of many questions: "There are things

That make the heart akin to the dumb stone."

Then I replied: "Although you hide a secret,

Hopeless and dear, or terrible to think on,

[19] Speak it, that I may send through the wide world

For medicine." Thereon he cried aloud:

"Day after day you question me, and I,

Because there is such a storm amid my thoughts

I shall be carried in the gust, command,

Forbid, beseech and waste my breath." Then I,

"Although the thing that you have hid were evil,

The speaking of it could be no great wrong,

And evil must it be, if done 'twere worse

Than mound and stone that keep all virtue in,

And loosen on us dreams that waste our life,

Shadows and shows that can but turn the brain."

But finding him still silent I stooped down

[20] And whispering that none but he should hear,

Said: "If a woman has put this on you,

My men, whether it please her or displease,

And though they have to cross the Loughlan waters

And take her in the middle of armed men,

Shall make her look upon her handiwork,

That she may quench the rick she has fired; and though

She may have worn silk clothes, or worn a crown,

She'll not be proud, knowing within her heart

That our sufficient portion of the world

Is that we give, although it be brief giving,

Happiness to children and to men."

Then he, driven by his thought beyond his thought,

[21] And speaking what he would not though he would,

Sighed: "You, even you yourself, could work the cure!"

And at those words I rose and I went out

And for nine days he had food from other hands,

And for nine days my mind went whirling round

The one disastrous zodiac, muttering

That the immedicable mound's beyond

Our questioning, beyond our pity even.

But when nine days had gone I stood again

Before his chair and bending down my head

Told him, that when Orion rose, and all

The women of his household were asleep,

To go—for hope would give his limbs the power—

[22] To an old empty woodman's house that's hidden

Close to a clump of beech trees in the wood

Westward of Tara, there to await a friend

That could, as he had told her, work his cure

And would be no harsh friend.

When night had deepened,

I groped my way through boughs, and over roots,

Till oak and hazel ceased and beech began,

And found the house, a sputtering torch within,

And stretched out sleeping on a pile of skins

Ardan, and though I called to him and tried

To shake him out of sleep, I could not rouse him.

I waited till the night was on the turn,

[23] Then fearing that some labourer, on his way

To plough or pasture-land, might see me there,

Went out.

Among the ivy-covered rocks,

As on the blue light of a sword, a man

Who had unnatural majesty, and eyes

Like the eyes of some great kite scouring the woods,

Stood on my path. Trembling from head to foot

I gazed at him like grouse upon a kite;

But with a voice that had unnatural music,

"A weary wooing and a long," he said,

"Speaking of love through other lips and looking

Under the eyelids of another, for it was my craft

That put a passion in the sleeper there,

And when I had got my will and drawn you here,

[24] Where I may speak to you alone, my craft

Sucked up the passion out of him again

And left mere sleep. He'll wake when the sun wakes,

Push out his vigorous limbs and rub his eyes,

And wonder what has ailed him these twelve months."

I cowered back upon the wall in terror,

But that sweet-sounding voice ran on: "Woman,

I was your husband when you rode the air,

Danced in the whirling foam and in the dust,

In days you have not kept in memory,

Being betrayed into a cradle, and I come

That I may claim you as my wife again."

I was no longer terrified, his voice

[25] Had half awakened some old memory,

Yet answered him: "I am King Eochaid's wife

And with him have found every happiness

Women can find." With a most masterful voice,

That made the body seem as it were a string

Under a bow, he cried: "What happiness

Can lovers have that know their happiness

Must end at the dumb stone? But where we build

Our sudden palaces in the still air

Pleasure itself can bring no weariness,

Nor can time waste the cheek, nor is there foot

That has grown weary of the whirling dance,

Nor an unlaughing mouth, but mine that mourns,

[26] Among those mouths that sing their sweethearts' praise,

Your empty bed." "How should I love," I answered,

"Were it not that when the dawn has lit my bed

And shown my husband sleeping there, I have sighed,

'Your strength and nobleness will pass away.'

Or how should love be worth its pains were it not

That when he has fallen asleep within my arms,

Being wearied out, I love in man the child?

What can they know of love that do not know

She builds her nest upon a narrow ledge

Above a windy precipice?" Then he:

"Seeing that when you come to the death-bed

[27] You must return, whether you would or no,

This human life blotted from memory,

Why must I live some thirty, forty years,

Alone with all this useless happiness?"

Thereon he seized me in his arms, but I

Thrust him away with both my hands and cried,

"Never will I believe there is any change

Can blot out of my memory this life

Sweetened by death, but if I could believe

That were a double hunger in my lips

For what is doubly brief."

And now the shape,

My hands were pressed to, vanished suddenly.

I staggered, but a beech tree stayed my fall,

[28] And clinging to it I could hear the cocks

Crow upon Tara.'

King Eochaid bowed his head

And thanked her for her kindness to his brother,

For that she promised, and for that refused.

Thereon the bellowing of the empounded herds

Rose round the walls, and through the bronze-ringed door

Jostled and shouted those war-wasted men,

And in the midst King Eochaid's brother stood.

He'd heard that din on the horizon's edge

And ridden towards it, being ignorant.



You gave but will not give again

Until enough of Paudeen's pence

By Biddy's halfpennies have lain

To be 'some sort of evidence,'

Before you'll put your guineas down,

That things it were a pride to give

Are what the blind and ignorant town

Imagines best to make it thrive.

What cared Duke Ercole, that bid

His mummers to the market place,

What th' onion-sellers thought or did

So that his Plautus set the pace

For the Italian comedies?

And Guidobaldo, when he made

[30] That grammar school of courtesies

Where wit and beauty learned their trade

Upon Urbino's windy hill,

Had sent no runners to and fro

That he might learn the shepherds' will.

And when they drove out Cosimo,

Indifferent how the rancour ran,

He gave the hours they had set free

To Michelozzo's latest plan

For the San Marco Library,

Whence turbulent Italy should draw

Delight in Art whose end is peace,

In logic and in natural law

By sucking at the dugs of Greece.

Your open hand but shows our loss,

For he knew better how to live.

Let Paudeens play at pitch and toss,

Look up in the sun's eye and give

What the exultant heart calls good

[31] That some new day may breed the best

Because you gave, not what they would

But the right twigs for an eagle's nest!

December 1912.



What need you, being come to sense,

But fumble in a greasy till

And add the halfpence to the pence

And prayer to shivering prayer, until

You have dried the marrow from the bone;

For men were born to pray and save:

Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,

It's with O'Leary in the grave.

Yet they were of a different kind

The names that stilled your childish play,

They have gone about the world like wind,

But little time had they to pray

For whom the hangman's rope was spun,

[33] And what, God help us, could they save:

Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,

It's with O'Leary in the grave.

Was it for this the wild geese spread

The grey wing upon every tide;

For this that all that blood was shed,

For this Edward Fitzgerald died,

And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,

All that delirium of the brave;

Romantic Ireland's dead and gone,

It's with O'Leary in the grave.

Yet could we turn the years again,

And call those exiles as they were,

In all their loneliness and pain

You'd cry 'some woman's yellow hair

Has maddened every mother's son':

They weighed so lightly what they gave,

But let them be, they're dead and gone,

They're with O'Leary in the grave.



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.



Indignant at the fumbling wits, the obscure spite

Of our old Paudeen in his shop, I stumbled blind

Among the stones and thorn trees, under morning light;

Until a curlew cried and in the luminous wind

A curlew answered; and suddenly thereupon I thought

That on the lonely height where all are in God's eye,

There cannot be, confusion of our sound forgot,

A single soul that lacks a sweet crystaline cry.



If you have revisited the town, thin Shade,

Whether to look upon your monument

(I wonder if the builder has been paid)

Or happier thoughted when the day is spent

To drink of that salt breath out of the sea

When grey gulls flit about instead of men,

And the gaunt houses put on majesty:

Let these content you and be gone again;

For they are at their old tricks yet.

A man

Of your own passionate serving kind who had brought

[37] In his full hands what, had they only known,

Had given their children's children loftier thought,

Sweeter emotion, working in their veins

Like gentle blood, has been driven from the place,

And insult heaped upon him for his pains

And for his open-handedness, disgrace;

An old foul mouth that slandered you had set

The pack upon him.

Go, unquiet wanderer,

And gather the Glasnevin coverlet

About your head till the dust stops your ear,

The time for you to taste of that salt breath

And listen at the corners has not come;

[38] You had enough of sorrow before death—

Away, away! You are safer in the tomb.

September 29th, 1914.



We have cried in our despair

That men desert,

For some trivial affair

Or noisy, insolent sport,

Beauty that we have won

From bitterest hours;

Yet we, had we walked within

Those topless towers

Where Helen walked with her boy,

Had given but as the rest

Of the men and women of Troy,

A word and a jest.



Once, when midnight smote the air,

Eunuchs ran through Hell and met

From thoroughfare to thoroughfare,

While that great Juan galloped by;

And like these to rail and sweat

Staring upon his sinewy thigh.



'Though to my feathers in the wet,

I have stood here from break of day,

I have not found a thing to eat

For only rubbish comes my way.

Am I to live on lebeen-lone?'

Muttered the old crane of Gort.

'For all my pains on lebeen-lone.'

King Guari walked amid his court

The palace-yard and river-side

And there to three old beggars said:

'You that have wandered far and wide

Can ravel out what's in my head.

Do men who least desire get most,

Or get the most who most desire?'

A beggar said: 'They get the most

[42] Whom man or devil cannot tire,

And what could make their muscles taut

Unless desire had made them so.'

But Guari laughed with secret thought,

'If that be true as it seems true,

One of you three is a rich man,

For he shall have a thousand pounds

Who is first asleep, if but he can

Sleep before the third noon sounds.'

And thereon merry as a bird,

With his old thoughts King Guari went

From river-side and palace-yard

And left them to their argument.

'And if I win,' one beggar said,

'Though I am old I shall persuade

A pretty girl to share my bed';

The second: 'I shall learn a trade';

The third: 'I'll hurry to the course

Among the other gentlemen,

And lay it all upon a horse';

The second: 'I have thought again:

[43] A farmer has more dignity.'

One to another sighed and cried:

The exorbitant dreams of beggary,

That idleness had borne to pride,

Sang through their teeth from noon to noon;

And when the second twilight brought

The frenzy of the beggars' moon

They closed their blood-shot eyes for naught.

One beggar cried: 'You're shamming sleep.'

And thereupon their anger grew

Till they were whirling in a heap.

They'd mauled and bitten the night through

Or sat upon their heels to rail,

And when old Guari came and stood

Before the three to end this tale,

They were commingling lice and blood.

'Time's up,' he cried, and all the three

[44] With blood-shot eyes upon him stared.

'Time's up,' he cried, and all the three

Fell down upon the dust and snored.

'Maybe I shall be lucky yet,

Now they are silent,' said the crane.

'Though to my feathers in the wet

I've stood as I were made of stone

And seen the rubbish run about,

It's certain there are trout somewhere

And maybe I shall take a trout

If but I do not seem to care.'



Three old hermits took the air

By a cold and desolate sea,

First was muttering a prayer,

Second rummaged for a flea;

On a windy stone, the third,

Giddy with his hundredth year,

Sang unnoticed like a bird.

'Though the Door of Death is near

And what waits behind the door,

Three times in a single day

I, though upright on the shore,

Fall asleep when I should pray.'

So the first but now the second,

'We're but given what we have earned

When all thoughts and deeds are reckoned,

So it's plain to be discerned

[46] That the shades of holy men,

Who have failed being weak of will,

Pass the Door of Birth again,

And are plagued by crowds, until

They've the passion to escape.'

Moaned the other, 'They are thrown

Into some most fearful shape.'

But the second mocked his moan:

'They are not changed to anything,

Having loved God once, but maybe,

To a poet or a king

Or a witty lovely lady.'

While he'd rummaged rags and hair,

Caught and cracked his flea, the third,

Giddy with his hundredth year

Sang unnoticed like a bird.



'Time to put off the world and go somewhere

And find my health again in the sea air,'

Beggar to beggar cried, being frenzy-struck,

'And make my soul before my pate is bare.'

'And get a comfortable wife and house

To rid me of the devil in my shoes,'

Beggar to beggar cried, being frenzy-struck,

'And the worse devil that is between my thighs.'

'And though I'd marry with a comely lass,

[48] She need not be too comely—let it pass,'

Beggar to beggar cried, being frenzy-struck,

'But there's a devil in a looking-glass.'

'Nor should she be too rich, because the rich

Are driven by wealth as beggars by the itch,'

Beggar to beggar cried, being frenzy-struck,

'And cannot have a humorous happy speech.'

'And there I'll grow respected at my ease,

And hear amid the garden's nightly peace,'

Beggar to beggar cried, being frenzy-struck,

'The wind-blown clamor of the barnacle-geese.'



'The Man that I praise,'

Cries out the empty well,

'Lives all his days

Where a hand on the bell

Can call the milch-cows

To the comfortable door of his house.

Who but an idiot would praise

Dry stones in a well?'

'The Man that I praise,'

Cries out the leafless tree,

'Has married and stays

By an old hearth, and he

On naught has set store

But children and dogs on the floor.

Who but an idiot would praise

A withered tree?'



As I came over Windy Gap

They threw a halfpenny into my cap,

For I am running to Paradise;

And all that I need do is to wish

And somebody puts his hand in the dish

To throw me a bit of salted fish:

And there the king is but as the beggar.

My brother Mourteen is worn out

With skelping his big brawling lout,

And I am running to Paradise;

A poor life do what he can,

And though he keep a dog and a gun,

A serving maid and a serving man:

And there the king is but as the beggar.

[51] Poor men have grown to be rich men,

And rich men grown to be poor again,

And I am running to Paradise;

And many a darling wit's grown dull

That tossed a bare heel when at school,

Now it has filled an old sock full:

And there the king is but as the beggar.

The wind is old and still at play

While I must hurry upon my way,

For I am running to Paradise;

Yet never have I lit on a friend

To take my fancy like the wind

That nobody can buy or bind:

And there the king is but as the beggar.



A one-legged, one-armed, one-eyed man,

A bundle of rags upon a crutch,

Stumbled on windy Cruachan

Cursing the wind. It was as much

As the one sturdy leg could do

To keep him upright while he cursed.

He had counted, where long years ago

Queen Maeve's nine Maines had been nursed,

A pair of lapwings, one old sheep

And not a house to the plain's edge,

When close to his right hand a heap

Of grey stones and a rocky ledge

Reminded him that he could make,

If he but shifted a few stones,

A shelter till the daylight broke.

[53] But while he fumbled with the stones

They toppled over; 'Were it not

I have a lucky wooden shin

I had been hurt'; and toppling brought

Before his eyes, where stones had been,

A dark deep hole in the rock's face.

He gave a gasp and thought to run,

Being certain it was no right place

But the Hell Mouth at Cruachan

That's stuffed with all that's old and bad,

And yet stood still, because inside

He had seen a red-haired jolly lad

In some outlandish coat beside

A ladle and a tub of beer,

Plainly no phantom by his look.

So with a laugh at his own fear

He crawled into that pleasant nook.

Young Red-head stretched himself to yawn

[54] And murmured, 'May God curse the night

That's grown uneasy near the dawn

So that it seems even I sleep light;

And who are you that wakens me?

Has one of Maeve's nine brawling sons

Grown tired of his own company?

But let him keep his grave for once

I have to find the sleep I have lost.'

And then at last being wide awake,

'I took you for a brawling ghost,

Say what you please, but from day-break

I'll sleep another century.'

The beggar deaf to all but hope

Went down upon a hand and knee

And took the wooden ladle up

And would have dipped it in the beer

But the other pushed his hand aside,

'Before you have dipped it in the beer

That sacred Goban brewed,' he cried,

'I'd have assurance that you are able

To value beer—I will have no fool

[55] Dipping his nose into my ladle

Because he has stumbled on this hole

In the bad hour before the dawn.

If you but drink that beer and say

I will sleep until the winter's gone,

Or maybe, to Midsummer Day

You will sleep that length; and at the first

I waited so for that or this—

Because the weather was a-cursed

Or I had no woman there to kiss,

And slept for half a year or so;

But year by year I found that less

Gave me such pleasure I'd forgo

Even a half hour's nothingness,

And when at one year's end I found

I had not waked a single minute,

I chose this burrow under ground.

I will sleep away all Time within it:

My sleep were now nine centuries

But for those mornings when I find

The lapwing at their foolish cries

And the sheep bleating at the wind

[56] As when I also played the fool.'

The beggar in a rage began

Upon his hunkers in the hole,

'It's plain that you are no right man

To mock at everything I love

As if it were not worth the doing.

I'd have a merry life enough

If a good Easter wind were blowing,

And though the winter wind is bad

I should not be too down in the mouth

For anything you did or said

If but this wind were in the south.'

But the other cried, 'You long for spring

Or that the wind would shift a point

And do not know that you would bring,

If time were suppler in the joint,

Neither the spring nor the south wind

But the hour when you shall pass away

And leave no smoking wick behind,

For all life longs for the Last Day

[57] And there's no man but cocks his ear

To know when Michael's trumpet cries

That flesh and bone may disappear,

And souls as if they were but sighs,

And there be nothing but God left;

But I alone being blessed keep

Like some old rabbit to my cleft

And wait Him in a drunken sleep.'

He dipped his ladle in the tub

And drank and yawned and stretched him out.

The other shouted, 'You would rob

My life of every pleasant thought

And every comfortable thing

And so take that and that.' Thereon

He gave him a great pummelling,

But might have pummelled at a stone

For all the sleeper knew or cared;

And after heaped the stones again

And cursed and prayed, and prayed and cursed:

[58] 'Oh God if he got loose!' And then

In fury and in panic fled

From the Hell Mouth at Cruachan

And gave God thanks that overhead

The clouds were brightening with the dawn.



(Song from an Unfinished Play)

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.

[60] '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?



Hope that you may understand!

What can books of men that wive

In a dragon-guarded land,

Paintings of the dolphin-drawn

Sea-nymphs in their pearly waggons

Do, but awake a hope to live

That had gone

With the dragons?




Toil, and grow rich,

What's that but to lie

With a foul witch

And after, drained dry,

To be brought

To the chamber where

Lies one long sought

With despair.




What's riches to him

That has made a great peacock

With the pride of his eye?

The wind-beaten, stone-grey,

And desolate Three-rock

Would nourish his whim.

Live he or die

Amid wet rocks and heather,

His ghost will be gay

Adding feather to feather

For the pride of his eye.



Pour wine and dance if Manhood still have pride,

Bring roses if the rose be yet in bloom;

The cataract smokes upon the mountain side,

Our Father Rosicross is in his tomb.

Pull down the blinds, bring fiddle and clarionet

That there be no foot silent in the room

Nor mouth from kissing, nor from wine unwet;

Our Father Rosicross is in his tomb.

In vain, in vain; the cataract still cries

[65] The everlasting taper lights the gloom;

All wisdom shut into his onyx eyes

Our Father Rosicross sleeps in his tomb.




Dance there upon the shore;

What need have you to care

For wind or water's roar?

And tumble out your hair

That the salt drops have wet;

Being young you have not known

The fool's triumph, nor yet

Love lost as soon as won,

Nor the best labourer dead

And all the sheaves to bind.

What need have you to dread

The monstrous crying of wind?


Has no one said those daring

Kind eyes should be more learn'd?

[67] Or warned you how despairing

The moths are when they are burned,

I could have warned you, but you are young,

So we speak a different tongue.

O you will take whatever's offered

And dream that all the world's a friend,

Suffer as your mother suffered,

Be as broken in the end.

But I am old and you are young,

And I speak a barbarous tongue.



The moments passed as at a play,

I had the wisdom love brings forth;

I had my share of mother wit

And yet for all that I could say,

And though I had her praise for it,

A cloud blown from the cut-throat north

Suddenly hid love's moon away.

Believing every word I said

I praised her body and her mind

Till pride had made her eyes grow bright,

And pleasure made her cheeks grow red,

And vanity her footfall light,

Yet we, for all that praise, could find

Nothing but darkness overhead.

[69] We sat as silent as a stone,

We knew, though she'd not said a word,

That even the best of love must die,

And had been savagely undone

Were it not that love upon the cry

Of a most ridiculous little bird

Tore from the clouds his marvellous moon.



Although crowds gathered once if she but showed her face,

And even old men's eyes grew dim, this hand alone,

Like some last courtier at a gypsy camping place,

Babbling of fallen majesty, records what's gone.

The lineaments, a heart that laughter has made sweet,

These, these remain, but I record what's gone. A crowd

Will gather, and not know it walks the very street

Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud.



Now must I these three praise—

Three women that have wrought

What joy is in my days;

One that no passing thought,

Nor those unpassing cares,

No, not in these fifteen

Many times troubled years,

Could ever come between

Heart and delighted heart;

And one because her hand

Had strength that could unbind

What none can understand,

What none can have and thrive,

Youth's dreamy load, till she

So changed me that I live

Labouring in ecstasy.

And what of her that took

All till my youth was gone

[72] With scarce a pitying look?

How should I praise that one?

When day begins to break

I count my good and bad,

Being wakeful for her sake,

Remembering what she had,

What eagle look still shows,

While up from my heart's root

So great a sweetness flows

I shake from head to foot.



Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting Heaven

That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,

And thereupon imagination and heart were driven

So wild that every casual thought of that and this

Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season

With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;

And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,

Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,

Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,

[74] Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent

Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken

By the injustice of the skies for punishment?



She lived in storm and strife,

Her soul had such desire

For what proud death may bring

That it could not endure

The common good of life,

But lived as 'twere a king

That packed his marriage day

With banneret and pennon,

Trumpet and kettledrum,

And the outrageous cannon,

To bundle time away

That the night come.



Being out of heart with government

I took a broken root to fling

Where the proud, wayward squirrel went,

Taking delight that he could spring;

And he, with that low whinnying sound

That is like laughter, sprang again

And so to the other tree at a bound.

Nor the tame will, nor timid brain,

Bred that fierce tooth and cleanly limb

And threw him up to laugh on the bough;

No government appointed him.




Now as at all times I can see in the mind's eye,

In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones

Appear and disappear in the blue depth of the sky

With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,

And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,

And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,

Being by Calvary's turbulence unsatisfied,

The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.




A doll in the doll-maker's house

Looks at the cradle and balls:

'That is an insult to us.'

But the oldest of all the dolls

Who had seen, being kept for show,

Generations of his sort,

Out-screams the whole shelf: 'Although

There's not a man can report

Evil of this place,

The man and the woman bring

Hither to our disgrace,

A noisy and filthy thing.'

Hearing him groan and stretch

The doll-maker's wife is aware

Her husband has heard the wretch,

And crouched by the arm of his chair,

[79] She murmurs into his ear,

Head upon shoulder leant:

'My dear, my dear, oh dear,

It was an accident.'



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 eye

As though they'd wrought it.

Song, let them take it

For there's more enterprise

In walking naked.



While I, from that reed-throated whisperer

Who comes at need, although not now as once

A clear articulation in the air

But inwardly, surmise companions

Beyond the fling of the dull ass's hoof,

—Ben Jonson's phrase—and find when June is come

At Kyle-na-no under that ancient roof

A sterner conscience and a friendlier home,

I can forgive even that wrong of wrongs,

Those undreamt accidents that have made me

—Seeing that Fame has perished this long while

Being but a part of ancient ceremony—

Notorious, till all my priceless things

Are but a post the passing dogs defile.







I swayed upon the gaudy stern

The butt end of a steering oar,

And everywhere that I could turn

Men ran upon the shore.

And though I would have hushed the crowd

There was no mother's son but said,

'What is the figure in a shroud

Upon a gaudy bed?'

And fishes bubbling to the brim

Cried out upon that thing beneath,

—It had such dignity of limb—

By the sweet name of Death.

Though I'd my finger on my lip,

What could I but take up the song?

[86] And fish and crowd and gaudy ship

Cried out the whole night long,

Crying amid the glittering sea,

Naming it with ecstatic breath,

Because it had such dignity

By the sweet name of Death.



If any man drew near

When I was young,

I thought, 'He holds her dear,'

And shook with hate and fear.

But oh, 'twas bitter wrong

If he could pass her by

With an indifferent eye.

Whereon I wrote and wrought,

And now, being grey,

I dream that I have brought

To such a pitch my thought

That coming time can say,

'He shadowed in a glass

What thing her body was.'

For she had fiery blood

When I was young,

[88] And trod so sweetly proud

As 'twere upon a cloud,

A woman Homer sung,

That life and letters seem

But an heroic dream.



I had this thought awhile ago,

'My darling cannot understand

What I have done, or what would do

In this blind bitter land.'

And I grew weary of the sun

Until my thoughts cleared up again,

Remembering that the best I have done

Was done to make it plain;

That every year I have cried, 'At length

My darling understands it all,

Because I have come into my strength,

And words obey my call.'

[90] That had she done so who can say

What would have shaken from the sieve?

I might have thrown poor words away

And been content to live.



Why should I blame her that she filled my days

With misery, or that she would of late

Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,

Or hurled the little streets upon the great,

Had they but courage equal to desire?

What could have made her peaceful with a mind

That nobleness made simple as a fire,

With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind

That is not natural in an age like this,

Being high and solitary and most stern?

Why, what could she have done being what she is?

Was there another Troy for her to burn?



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,

[93] 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.



'Would it were anything but merely voice!'

The No King cried who after that was King,

Because he had not heard of anything

That balanced with a word is more than noise;

Yet Old Romance being kind, let him prevail

Somewhere or somehow that I have forgot,

Though he'd but cannon—Whereas we that had thought

To have lit upon as clean and sweet a tale

Have been defeated by that pledge you gave

In momentary anger long ago;

[95] And I that have not your faith, how shall I know

That in the blinding light beyond the grave

We'll find so good a thing as that we have lost?

The hourly kindness, the day's common speech,

The habitual content of each with each

When neither soul nor body has been crossed.



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 storm,

Would not painters paint 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.



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,

[98] 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.



The fascination of what's difficult

Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent

Spontaneous joy and natural content

Out of my heart. There's something ails our colt

That must, as if it had not holy blood,

Nor on an Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud,

Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and jolt

As though it dragged road metal. My curse on plays

That have to be set up in fifty ways,

On the day's war with every knave and dolt,

[100] Theatre business, management of men.

I swear before the dawn comes round again

I'll find the stable and pull out the bolt.



Wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye;

That's all we shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth,

I look at you, and I sigh.



Though leaves are many, the root is one;

Through all the lying days of my youth

I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;

Now I may wither into the truth.



Where, where but here have Pride and Truth,

That long to give themselves for wage,

To shake their wicked sides at youth

Restraining reckless middle-age.



You say, as I have often given tongue

In praise of what another's said or sung,

'Twere politic to do the like by these;

But have you known a dog to praise his fleas?



'Put off that mask of burning gold

With emerald eyes.'

'O no, my dear, you make so bold

To find if hearts be wild and wise,

And yet not cold.'

'I would but find what's there to find,

Love or deceit.'

'It was the mask engaged your mind,

And after set your heart to beat,

Not what's behind.'

'But lest you are my enemy,

I must enquire.'

'O no, my dear, let all that be,

What matter, so there is but fire

In you, in me?'



How should the world be luckier if this house,

Where passion and precision have been one

Time out of mind, became too ruinous

To breed the lidless eye that loves the sun?

And the sweet laughing eagle thoughts that grow

Where wings have memory of wings, and all

That comes of the best knit to the best? Although

Mean roof-trees were the sturdier for its fall,

How should their luck run high enough to reach

[107] The gifts that govern men, and after these

To gradual Time's last gift, a written speech

Wrought of high laughter, loveliness and ease?



(Imitated from Ronsard)

Dear Craoibhin Aoibhin, look into our case.

When we are high and airy hundreds say

That if we hold that flight they'll leave the place,

While those same hundreds mock another day

Because we have made our art of common things,

So bitterly, you'd dream they longed to look

All their lives through into some drift of wings.

You've dandled them and fed them from the book

[109] And know them to the bone; impart to us—

We'll keep the secret—a new trick to please.

Is there a bridle for this Proteus

That turns and changes like his draughty seas?

Or is there none, most popular of men,

But when they mock us that we mock again?



These are the clouds about the fallen sun,

The majesty that shuts his burning eye;

The weak lay hand on what the strong has done,

Till that be tumbled that was lifted high

And discord follow upon unison,

And all things at one common level lie.

And therefore, friend, if your great race were run

And these things came, so much the more thereby

Have you made greatness your companion,

[111] Although it be for children that you sigh:

These are the clouds about the fallen sun,

The majesty that shuts his burning eye.



There where the course is,

Delight makes all of the one mind,

The riders upon the galloping horses,

The crowd that closes in behind:

We, too, had good attendance once,

Hearers and hearteners of the work;

Aye, horsemen for companions,

Before the merchant and the clerk

Breathed on the world with timid breath.

Sing on: sometime, and at some new moon,

We'll learn that sleeping is not death,

Hearing the whole earth change its tune,

Its flesh being wild, and it again

Crying aloud as the race course is,

And we find hearteners among men

That ride upon horses.



Sickness brought me this

Thought, in that scale of his:

Why should I be dismayed

Though flame had burned the whole

World, as it were a coal,

Now I have seen it weighed

Against a soul?



All things can tempt me from this craft of verse:

One time it was a woman's face, or worse—

The seeming needs of my fool-driven land;

Now nothing but comes readier to the hand

Than this accustomed toil. When I was young,

I had not given a penny for a song

Did not the poet sing it with such airs

That one believed he had a sword upstairs;

Yet would be now, could I but have my wish,

Colder and dumber and deafer than a fish.



I whispered, 'I am too young,'

And then, 'I am old enough;'

Wherefore I threw a penny

To find out if I might love.

'Go and love, go and love, young man,

If the lady be young and fair.'

Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,

I am looped in the loops of her hair.

Oh, love is the crooked thing,

There is nobody wise enough

To find out all that is in it,

For he would be thinking of love

Till the stars had run away,

[116] And the shadows eaten the moon.

Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,

One cannot begin it too soon.







Wise Man.

Bridget, his wife.

Teigue, a fool.


Children and Pupils.

Pupils come in and stand before the stage curtain, which is still closed. One pupil carries a book.

First Pupil

He said we might choose the subject for the lesson.

Second Pupil

There is none of us wise enough to do that.


Third Pupil

It would need a great deal of wisdom to know what it is we want to know.

Fourth Pupil

I will question him.

Fifth Pupil


Fourth Pupil

Last night I dreamt that some one came and told me to question him. I was to say to him, 'You were wrong to say there is no God and no soul—maybe, if there is not much of either, there is yet some tatters, some tag on the wind—so to speak—some rag upon a bush, some bob-tail of a god.' I will argue with him,—nonsense though it be—according to my dream, and you will see how well I can argue, and what thoughts I have.


First Pupil

I'd as soon listen to dried peas in a bladder, as listen to your thoughts.

[Fool comes in.


Give me a penny.

Second Pupil

Let us choose a subject by chance. Here is his big book. Let us turn over the pages slowly. Let one of us put down his finger without looking. The passage his finger lights on will be the subject for the lesson.


Give me a penny.

Third Pupil

(Taking up book) How heavy it is.


Fourth Pupil

Spread it on Teigue's back, and then we can all stand round and see the choice.

Second Pupil

Make him spread out his arms.

Fourth Pupil

Down on your knees. Hunch up your back. Spread your arms out now, and look like a golden eagle in a church. Keep still, keep still.


Give me a penny.

Third Pupil

Is that the right cry for an eagle cock?

Second Pupil

I'll turn the pages—you close your eyes and put your finger down.


Third Pupil

That's it, and then he cannot blame us for the choice.

First Pupil

There, I have chosen. Fool, keep still—and if what's wise is strange and sounds like nonsense, we've made a good choice.

Fifth Pupil

The Master has come.


Will anybody give a penny to a fool?

[One of the pupils draws back the stage curtain showing the Master sitting at his desk. There is an hour-glass upon his desk or in a bracket on the wall. One pupil puts the book before him.

First Pupil

We have chosen the passage for the lesson, Master. 'There are two [124] living countries, one visible and one invisible, and when it is summer there, it is winter here, and when it is November with us, it is lambing-time there.'

Wise Man

That passage, that passage! what mischief has there been since yesterday?

First Pupil

None, Master.

Wise Man

Oh yes, there has; some craziness has fallen from the wind, or risen from the graves of old men, and made you choose that subject.

Fourth Pupil

I knew that it was folly, but they would have it.


Third Pupil

Had we not better say we picked it by chance?

Second Pupil

No; he would say we were children still.

First Pupil

I have found a sentence under that one that says—as though to show it had a hidden meaning—a beggar wrote it upon the walls of Babylon.

Wise Man

Then find some beggar and ask him what it means, for I will have nothing to do with it.

Fourth Pupil

Come, Teigue, what is the old book's meaning when it says that there are sheep that drop their lambs in November?



To be sure—everybody knows, everybody in the world knows, when it is Spring with us, the trees are withering there, when it is Summer with us, the snow is falling there, and have I not myself heard the lambs that are there all bleating on a cold November day—to be sure, does not everybody with an intellect know that; and maybe when it's night with us, it is day with them, for many a time I have seen the roads lighted before me.

Wise Man

The beggar who wrote that on Babylon wall meant that there is a spiritual kingdom that cannot be seen or known till the faculties whereby we master the kingdom of this world wither away, like green things in winter. A monkish thought, the [127] most mischievous thought that ever passed out of a man's mouth.

First Pupil

If he meant all that, I will take an oath that he was spindle-shanked, and cross-eyed, and had a lousy itching shoulder, and that his heart was crosser than his eyes, and that he wrote it out of malice.

Second Pupil

Let's come away and find a better subject.

Fourth Pupil

And maybe now you'll let me choose.

First Pupil


Wise Man

Were it but true 'twould alter everything

Until the stream of the world had changed its course,

[128] And that and all our thoughts had run

Into some cloudy thunderous spring

They dream to be its source—

Aye, to some frenzy of the mind;

And all that we have done would be undone,

Our speculation but as the wind.

[A pause.

I have dreamed it twice.

First Pupil

Something has troubled him.

[Pupils go out.

Wise Man

Twice have I dreamed it in a morning dream,

Now nothing serves my pupils but to come

With a like thought. Reason is growing dim;

A moment more and Frenzy will beat his drum

[129] And laugh aloud and scream;

And I must dance in the dream.

No, no, but it is like a hawk, a hawk of the air,

It has swooped down—and this swoop makes the third—

And what can I, but tremble like a bird?


Give me a penny.

Wise Man

That I should dream it twice, and after that, that they should pick it out.


Won't you give me a penny?

Wise Man

What do you want? What can it matter to you whether the words I am reading are wisdom or sheer folly?



Such a great, wise teacher will not refuse a penny to a fool.

Wise Man

Seeing that everybody is a fool when he is asleep and dreaming, why do you call me wise?


O, I know,—I know, I know what I have seen.

Wise Man

Well, to see rightly is the whole of wisdom, whatever dream be with us.


When I went by Kilcluan, where the bells used to be ringing at the break of every day, I could hear nothing but the people snoring in their houses. When I went by Tubbervanach, [131] where the young men used to be climbing the hill to the blessed well, they were sitting at the cross-roads playing cards. When I went by Carrigoras, where the friars used to be fasting and serving the poor, I saw them drinking wine and obeying their wives. And when I asked what misfortune had brought all these changes, they said it was no misfortune, but that it was the wisdom they had learned from your teaching.

Wise Man

And you too have called me wise—you would be paid for that good opinion doubtless—Run to the kitchen, my wife will give you food and drink.


That's foolish advice for a wise man to give.


Wise Man

Why, Fool?


What is eaten is gone—I want pennies for my bag. I must buy bacon in the shops, and nuts in the market, and strong drink for the time the sun is weak, and snares to catch the rabbits and the hares, and a big pot to cook them in.

Wise Man

I have more to think about than giving pennies to your like, so run away.


Give me a penny and I will bring you luck. The fishermen let me sleep among their nets in the loft because I bring them luck; and in the summer time, the wild creatures let me sleep near their nests and their holes. It [133] is lucky even to look at me, but it is much more lucky to give me a penny. If I was not lucky I would starve.

Wise Man

What are the shears for?


I won't tell you. If I told you, you would drive them away.

Wise Man

Drive them away! Who would I drive away?


I won't tell you.

Wise Man

Not if I give you a penny?



Wise Man

Not if I give you two pennies?



You will be very lucky if you give me two pennies, but I won't tell you.

Wise Man

Three pennies?


Four, and I will tell you.

Wise Man

Very well—four, but from this out I will not call you Teigue the Fool.


Let me come close to you, where nobody will hear me; but first you must promise not to drive them away. (Wise Man nods.) Every day men go out dressed in black and spread great black nets over the hills, great black nets.


Wise Man

A strange place that to fish in.


They spread them out on the hills that they may catch the feet of the angels; but every morning just before the dawn, I go out and cut the nets with the shears and the angels fly away.

Wise Man

(Speaking with excitement) Ah, now I know that you are Teigue the Fool. You say that I am wise, and yet I say, there are no angels.


I have seen plenty of angels.

Wise Man

No, no, you have not.



They are plenty if you but look about you. They are like the blades of grass.

Wise Man

They are plenty as the blades of grass—I heard that phrase when I was but a child and was told folly.


When one gets quiet. When one is so quiet that there is not a thought in one's head maybe, there is something that wakes up inside one, something happy and quiet, and then all in a minute one can smell summer flowers, and tall people go by, happy and laughing, but they will not let us look at their faces. Oh no, it is not right that we should look at their faces.


Wise Man

You have fallen asleep upon a hill, yet, even those that used to dream of angels dream now of other things.


I saw one but a moment ago—that is because I am lucky. It was coming behind me, but it was not laughing.

Wise Man

There's nothing but what men can see when they are awake. Nothing, nothing.


I knew you would drive them away.

Wise Man

Pardon me, Fool,

I had forgotten who I spoke to.

Well, there are your four pennies—Fool you are called,

[138] And all day long they cry, 'Come hither, Fool.'

[The Fool goes close to him.

Or else it's, 'Fool, be gone.'

[The Fool goes further off.

Or, 'Fool, stand there.'

[The Fool straightens himself up.

Or, 'Fool, go sit in the corner.'

[The Fool sits in the corner.

And all the while

What were they all but fools before I came?

What are they now, but mirrors that seem men,

Because of my image? Fool, hold up your head.

[Fool does so.

What foolish stories they have told of the ghosts

That fumbled with the clothes upon the bed,

Or creaked and shuffled in the corridor,

Or else, if they were pious bred,

Of angels from the skies,

[139] That coming through the door,

Or, it may be, standing there,

Would solidly out stare

The steadiest eyes with their unnatural eyes,

Aye, on a man's own floor.

[An angel has come in. It should be played by a man if a man can be found with the right voice, and may wear a little golden domino and a halo made of metal. Or the whole face may be a beautiful mask, in which case the last sentence on page 136 should not be spoken.

Yet it is strange, the strangest thing I have known,

That I should still be haunted by the notion

That there's a crisis of the spirit wherein

We get new sight, and that they know some trick

[140] To turn our thoughts for their own ends to frenzy.

Why do you put your finger to your lip,

And creep away?

[Fool goes out.

(Wise Man sees Angel.) What are you? Who are you?

I think I saw some like you in my dreams,

When but a child. That thing about your head,—

That brightness in your hair—that flowery branch;

But I have done with dreams, I have done with dreams.


I am the crafty one that you have called.

Wise Man

How that I called?


I am the messenger.


Wise Man

What message could you bring to one like me?

Angel (turning the hour-glass)

That you will die when the last grain of sand

Has fallen through this glass.

Wise Man

I have a wife.

Children and pupils that I cannot leave:

Why must I die, my time is far away?


You have to die because no soul has passed

The heavenly threshold since you have opened school,

But grass grows there, and rust upon the hinge;

[142] And they are lonely that must keep the watch.

Wise Man

And whither shall I go when I am dead?


You have denied there is a purgatory,

Therefore that gate is closed; you have denied

There is a heaven, and so that gate is closed.

Wise Man

Where then? For I have said there is no hell.


Hell is the place of those who have denied;

They find there what they planted and what dug,

[143] A Lake of Spaces, and a Wood of Nothing,

And wander there and drift, and never cease

Wailing for substance.

Wise Man

Pardon me, blessed Angel,

I have denied and taught the like to others.

But how could I believe before my sight

Had come to me?


It is too late for pardon.

Wise Man

Had I but met your gaze as now I met it—

But how can you that live but where we go

In the uncertainty of dizzy dreams

[144] Know why we doubt? Parting, sickness and death,

The rotting of the grass, tempest and drouth,

These are the messengers that came to me.

Why are you silent? You carry in your hands

God's pardon, and you will not give it me.

Why are you silent? Were I not afraid,

I'd kiss your hands—no, no, the hem of your dress.


Only when all the world has testified,

May soul confound it, crying out in joy,

And laughing on its lonely precipice.

What's dearth and death and sickness to the soul

That knows no virtue but itself? Nor could it,

[145] So trembling with delight and mother-naked,

Live unabashed if the arguing world stood by.

Wise Man

It is as hard for you to understand

Why we have doubted, as it is for us

To banish doubt—what folly have I said?

There can be nothing that you do not know:

Give me a year—a month—a week—a day,

I would undo what I have done—an hour—

Give me until the sand has run in the glass.


Though you may not undo what you have done,

I have this power—if you but find one soul,

[146] Before the sands have fallen, that still believes,

One fish to lie and spawn among the stones

Till the great fisher's net is full again,

You may, the purgatorial fire being passed,

Spring to your peace.

[Pupils sing in the distance.

'Who stole your wits away

And where are they gone?'

Wise Man

My pupils come,

Before you have begun to climb the sky

I shall have found that soul. They say they doubt,

But what their mothers dinned into their ears

Cannot have been so lightly rooted up;

Besides, I can disprove what I once proved—

[147] And yet give me some thought, some argument,

More mighty than my own.



For I am weary of the weight of time.

[Angel goes out. Wise Man makes a step to follow and pauses. Some of his pupils come in at the other side of the stage.

First Pupil

Master, master, you must choose the subject.

[Enter other pupils with Fool, about whom they dance; all the pupils may have little cushions on which presently they seat themselves.


Second Pupil

Here is a subject—where have the Fool's wits gone? (singing)

'Who dragged your wits away

Where no one knows?

Or have they run off

On their own pair of shoes?'


Give me a penny.

First Pupil

The Master will find your wits,

Second Pupil

And when they are found, you must not beg for pennies.

Third Pupil

They are hidden somewhere in the badger's hole,

But you must carry an old candle end

If you would find them.


Fourth Pupil

They are up above the clouds.


Give me a penny, give me a penny.

First Pupil (singing)

'I'll find your wits again,

Come, for I saw them roll,

To where old badger mumbles

In the black hole.'

Second Pupil (singing)

'No, but an angel stole them

The night that you were born,

And now they are but a rag,

On the moon's horn.'

Wise Man

Be silent.

First Pupil

Can you not see that he is troubled?

[All the pupils are seated.


Wise Man

What do you think of when alone at night?

Do not the things your mothers spoke about,

Before they took the candle from the bedside,

Rush up into the mind and master it,

Till you believe in them against your will?

Second Pupil (to first pupil)

You answer for us.

Third Pupil (in a whisper to first pupil)

Be careful what you say;

If he persuades you to an argument,

He will but turn us all to mockery.

First Pupil

We had no minds until you made them for us;

[151] Our bodies only were our mothers' work.

Wise Man

You answer with incredible things. It is certain

That there is one,—though it may be but one—

Believes in God and in some heaven and hell—

In all those things we put into our prayers.

First Pupil

We thought those things before our minds were born,

But that was long ago—we are not children.

Wise Man

You are afraid to tell me what you think

Because I am hot and angry when I am crossed.

I do not blame you for it; but have no fear,

[152] For if there's one that sat on smiling there,

As though my arguments were sweet as milk

Yet found them bitter, I will thank him for it,

If he but speak his mind.

First Pupil

There is no one, Master,

There is not one but found them sweet as milk.

Wise Man

The things that have been told us in our childhood

Are not so fragile.

Second Pupil

We are no longer children.

Third Pupil

We all believe in you and in what you have taught.


Other Pupils

All, all, all, all, in you, nothing but you.

Wise Man

I have deceived you—where shall I go for words—

I have no thoughts—my mind has been swept bare.

The messengers that stand in the fiery cloud,

Fling themselves out, if we but dare to question,

And after that, the Babylonian moon

Blots all away.

First Pupil (to other pupils)

I take his words to mean

That visionaries, and martyrs when they are raised

Above translunary things, and there enlightened,

[154] As the contention is, may lose the light,

And flounder in their speech when the eyes open.

Second Pupil

How well he imitates their trick of speech.

Third Pupil

Their air of mystery.

Fourth Pupil

Their empty gaze,

As though they'd looked upon some winged thing,

And would not condescend to mankind after.

First Pupil

Master, we have all learnt that truth is learnt

When the intellect's deliberate and cold,

[155] As it were a polished mirror that reflects

An unchanged world; and not when the steel melts,

Bubbling and hissing, till there's naught but fume.

Wise Man

When it is melted, when it all fumes up,

They walk, as when beside those three in the furnace

The form of the fourth.

First Pupil

Master, there's none among us

That has not heard your mockery of these,

Or thoughts like these, and we have not forgot.

Wise Man

Something incredible has happened—some one has come

[156] Suddenly like a grey hawk out of the air,

And all that I declared untrue is true.

First Pupil (to other pupils)

You'd think the way he says it, that he felt it.

There's not a mummer to compare with him.

He's something like a man.

Second Pupil

Give us some proof.

Wise Man

What proof have I to give, but that an angel

An instant ago was standing on that spot.

[The pupils rise.

Third Pupil

You dreamed it.


Wise Man

I was awake as I am now.

First Pupil (to the others)

I may be dreaming now for all I know.

He wants to show we have no certain proof

Of anything in the world.

Second Pupil

There is this proof

That shows we are awake—we have all one world

While every dreamer has a world of his own,

And sees what no one else can.

Third Pupil

Teigue sees angels.

So when the Master says he has seen an angel,

He may have seen one.


First Pupil

Both may still be dreamers;

Unless it's proved the angels were alike.

Second Pupil

What sort are the angels, Teigue?

Third Pupil

That will prove nothing,

Unless we are sure prolonged obedience

Has made one angel like another angel

As they were eggs.

First Pupil

The Master's silent now:

For he has found that to dispute with us—

Seeing that he has taught us what we know—

Is but to reason with himself. Let us away,

And find if there is one believer left.


Wise Man

Yes, yes. Find me but one that still believes

The things that we were told when we were children.

Third Pupil

He'll mock and maul him.

Fourth Pupil

From the first I knew

He wanted somebody to argue with.

[They go.

Wise Man

I have no reason left. All dark, all dark!

[Pupils return laughing. They push forward fourth pupil.

First Pupil

Here, Master, is the very man you want.

[160] He said, when we were studying the book,

That maybe after all the monks were right,

And you mistaken, and if we but gave him time,

He'd prove that it was so.

Fourth Pupil

I never said it.

Wise Man

Dear friend, dear friend, do you believe in God?

Fourth Pupil

Master, they have invented this to mock me.

Wise Man

You are afraid of me.


Fourth Pupil

They know well, Master,

That all I said was but to make them argue.

They've pushed me in to make a mock of me,

Because they knew I could take either side

And beat them at it.

Wise Man

If you believe in God,

You are my soul's one friend.

[Pupils laugh.

Mistress or wife

Can give us but our good or evil luck

Amid the howling world, but you shall give

Eternity, and those sweet-throated things

That drift above the moon.

[The pupils look at one another and are silent.


Second Pupil

How strange he is.

Wise Man

The angel that stood there upon that spot,

Said that my soul was lost unless I found out

One that believed.

Fourth Pupil

Cease mocking at me, Master,

For I am certain that there is no God

Nor immortality, and they that said it

Made a fantastic tale from a starved dream

To plague our hearts. Will that content you, Master?

Wise Man

The giddy glass is emptier every moment,

And you stand there, debating, laughing and wrangling.

[163] Out of my sight! Out of my sight, I say.

[He drives them out.

I'll call my wife, for what can women do,

That carry us in the darkness of their bodies,

But mock the reason that lets nothing grow

Unless it grow in light. Bridget, Bridget.

A woman never ceases to believe,

Say what we will. Bridget, come quickly, Bridget.

[Bridget comes in wearing her apron. Her sleeves turned up from her arms, which are covered with flour.

Wife, what do you believe in? Tell me the truth,

And not—as is the habit with you all—

Something you think will please me. Do you pray?

[164] Sometimes when you're alone in the house, do you pray?


Prayers—no, you taught me to leave them off long ago. At first I was sorry, but I am glad now, for I am sleepy in the evenings.

Wise Man

Do you believe in God?


Oh, a good wife only believes in what her husband tells her.

Wise Man

But sometimes, when the children are asleep

And I am in the school, do you not think

About the Martyrs and the saints and the angels,

[165] And all the things that you believed in once?


I think about nothing—sometimes I wonder if the linen is bleaching white, or I go out to see if the crows are picking up the chickens' food.

Wise Man

My God,—my God! I will go out myself.

My pupils said that they would find a man

Whose faith I never shook—they may have found him.

Therefore I will go out—but if I go,

The glass will let the sands run out unseen.

I cannot go—I cannot leave the glass.

Go call my pupils—I can explain all now,

Only when all our hold on life is troubled,

[166] Only in spiritual terror can the Truth

Come through the broken mind—as the pease burst

Out of a broken pease-cod.

[He clutches Bridget as she is going.

Say to them,

That Nature would lack all in her most need,

Could not the soul find truth as in a flash,

Upon the battle-field, or in the midst

Of overwhelming waves, and say to them—

But no, they would but answer as I bid.


You want somebody to get up an argument with.

Wise Man

Look out and see if there is any one

There in the street—I cannot leave the glass,

[167] For somebody might shake it, and the sand

If it were shaken might run down on the instant.


I don't understand a word you are saying. There's a crowd of people talking to your pupils.

Wise Man

Go out and find if they have found a man

Who did not understand me when I taught,

Or did not listen.


It is a hard thing to be married to a man of learning that must always be having arguments.

[She goes out.


Wise Man

Strange that I should be blind to the great secret,

And that so simple a man might write it out

Upon a blade of grass or bit of rush

With naught but berry juice, and laugh to himself

Writing it out, because it was so simple.

[Enter Bridget followed by the Fool.


Give me something; give me a penny to buy bacon in the shops and nuts in the market, and strong drink for the time when the sun is weak.


I have no pennies. (To Wise Man) Your pupils cannot find anybody to argue with you. There's nobody in [169] the whole country with belief enough for a lover's oath. Can't you be quiet now, and not always wanting to have arguments? It must be terrible to have a mind like that.

Wise Man

Then I am lost indeed.


Leave me alone now, I have to make the bread for you and the children.

[She goes into kitchen.

Wise Man

Children, children!


Your father wants you, run to him.

[Children run in.

Wise Man

Come to me, children. Do not be afraid.

[170] I want to know if you believe in Heaven,

God or the soul—no, do not tell me yet;

You need not be afraid I shall be angry,

Say what you please—so that it is your thought—

I wanted you to know before you spoke,

That I shall not be angry.

First Child

We have not forgotten, Father.

Second Child

Oh no, Father.

Both Children

(As if repeating a lesson) There is nothing we cannot see, nothing we cannot touch.


First Child

Foolish people used to say that there was, but you have taught us better.

Wise Man

Go to your mother, go—yet do not go.

What can she say? If I am dumb you are lost;

And yet, because the sands are running out,

I have but a moment to show it all in. Children,

The sap would die out of the blades of grass

Had they a doubt. They understand it all,

Being the fingers of God's certainty,

Yet can but make their sign into the air;

But could they find their tongues they'd show it all;

But what am I to say that am but one,


When they are millions and they will not speak—

[Children have run out.

But they are gone; what made them run away?

[The Fool comes in with a dandelion.

Look at me, tell me if my face is changed,

Is there a notch of the fiend's nail upon it

Already? Is it terrible to sight?

Because the moment's near.

[Going to glass.

I dare not look,

I dare not know the moment when they come.

No, no, I dare not. (Covers glass.)

Will there be a footfall,

Or will there be a sort of rending sound,

Or else a cracking, as though an iron claw

[173] Had gripped the threshold stone?

[Fool has begun to blow the dandelion.

What are you doing?


Wait a minute—four—five—six—

Wise Man

What are you doing that for?


I am blowing the dandelion to find out what hour it is.

Wise Man

You have heard everything, and that is why

You'd find what hour it is—you'd find that out,

That you may look upon a fleet of devils

Dragging my soul away. You shall not stop,

[174] I will have no one here when they come in,

I will have no one sitting there—no one—

And yet—and yet—there is something strange about you.

I half remember something. What is it?

Do you believe in God and in the soul?


So you ask me now. I thought when you were asking your pupils, 'Will he ask Teigue the Fool? Yes, he will, he will; no, he will not—yes, he will.' But Teigue will say nothing. Teigue will say nothing.

Wise Man

Tell me quickly.


I said, 'Teigue knows everything, not [175] even the green-eyed cats and the hares that milk the cows have Teigue's wisdom'; but Teigue will not speak, he says nothing.

Wise Man

Speak, speak, for underneath the cover there

The sand is running from the upper glass,

And when the last grain's through, I shall be lost.


I will not speak. I will not tell you what is in my mind. I will not tell you what is in my bag. You might steal away my thoughts. I met a bodach on the road yesterday, and he said, 'Teigue, tell me how many pennies are in your bag; I will wager three pennies that there are [176] not twenty pennies in your bag; let me put in my hand and count them.' But I gripped the bag the tighter, and when I go to sleep at night I hide the bag where nobody knows.

Wise Man

There's but one pinch of sand, and I am lost

If you are not he I seek.


O, what a lot the Fool knows, but he says nothing.

Wise Man

Yes, I remember now. You spoke of angels.

You said but now that you had seen an angel.

You are the one I seek, and I am saved.



Oh no. How could poor Teigue see angels? Oh, Teigue tells one tale here, another there, and everybody gives him pennies. If Teigue had not his tales he would starve.

[He breaks away and goes out.

Wise Man

The last hope is gone,

And now that it's too late I see it all,

We perish into God and sink away

Into reality—the rest's a dream.

[The Fool comes back.


There was one there—there by the threshold stone, waiting there; and he said, 'Go in, Teigue, and tell him everything that he asks you. He will give you a penny if you tell him.'


Wise Man

I know enough, that know God's will prevails.


Waiting till the moment had come—That is what the one out there was saying, but I might tell you what you asked. That is what he was saying.

Wise Man

Be silent. May God's will prevail on the instant,

Although His will be my eternal pain.

I have no question:

It is enough, I know what fixed the station

Of star and cloud.

And knowing all, I cry

That what so God has willed

On the instant be fulfilled,

Though that be my damnation.

[179] The stream of the world has changed its course,

And with the stream my thoughts have run

Into some cloudy thunderous spring

That is its mountain source—

Aye, to some frenzy of the mind,

For all that we have done's undone,

Our speculation but as the wind.

[He dies.


Wise man—Wise man, wake up and I will tell you everything for a penny. It is I, poor Teigue the Fool. Why don't you wake up, and say, 'There is a penny for you, Teigue'? No, no, you will say nothing. You and I, we are the two fools, we know everything, but we will not speak.

[Angel enters holding a casket.

O, look what has come from his mouth! O, look what has come from his mouth—the white butterfly! He [180] is dead, and I have taken his soul in my hands; but I know why you open the lid of that golden box. I must give it to you. There then, (he puts butterfly in casket) he has gone through his pains, and you will open the lid in the Garden of Paradise. (He closes curtain and remains outside it.) He is gone, he is gone, he is gone, but come in, everybody in the world, and look at me.

'I hear the wind a blow

I hear the grass a grow,

And all that I know, I know.'

But I will not speak, I will run away.

[He goes out.






Prefatory Poem

'Free of the ten and four' is an error I cannot now correct, without more rewriting than I have a mind for. Some merchant in Villon, I forget the reference, was 'free of the ten and four.' Irish merchants exempted from certain duties by the Irish Parliament were, unless memory deceives me again for I am writing away from books, 'free of the eight and six.'

Poems beginning with that 'To a Wealthy Man' and ending with that 'To a Shade'

During the thirty years or so during which I have been reading Irish newspapers, three public controversies have stirred my imagination. The first was the Parnell controversy. There were reasons to justify a man's joining either party, but there were none to justify, on one side or on the other, lying accusations forgetful of past service, a frenzy of detraction. And another was the dispute over 'The Playboy.' There were reasons for opposing as for supporting that violent, laughing thing, [184] but none for the lies, for the unscrupulous rhetoric spread against it in Ireland, and from Ireland to America. The third prepared for the Corporation's refusal of a building for Sir Hugh Lane's famous collection of pictures.

One could respect the argument that Dublin, with much poverty and many slums, could not afford the £22,000 the building was to cost the city, but not the minds that used it. One frenzied man compared the pictures to Troy horse which 'destroyed a city,' and innumerable correspondents described Sir Hugh Lane and those who had subscribed many thousands to give Dublin paintings by Corot, Manet, Monet, Degas, and Renoir, as 'self-seekers,' 'self-advertisers,' 'picture-dealers,' 'log-rolling cranks and faddists,' and one clerical paper told 'picture-dealer Lane' to take himself and his pictures out of that. A member of the Corporation said there were Irish artists who could paint as good if they had a mind to, and another described a half-hour in the temporary gallery in Harcourt Street as the most dismal of his life. Some one else asked instead of these eccentric pictures to be given pictures 'like those beautiful productions displayed in the windows of our city picture shops.' Another thought that we would all be more patriotic if we [185] devoted our energy to fighting the Insurance Act. Another would not hang them in his kitchen, while yet another described the vogue of French impressionist painting as having gone to such a length among 'log-rolling enthusiasts' that they even admired 'works that were rejected from the Salon forty years ago by the finest critics in the world.'

The first serious opposition began in the Irish Catholic, the chief Dublin clerical paper, and Mr. William Murphy, the organiser of the recent lock-out and Mr. Healy's financial supporter in his attack upon Parnell, a man of great influence, brought to its support a few days later his newspapers The Evening Herald and The Irish Independent, the most popular of Irish daily papers. He replied to my poem 'To a Wealthy Man' (I was thinking of a very different wealthy man) from what he described as 'Paudeen's point of view,' and 'Paudeen's point of view' it was. The enthusiasm for 'Sir Hugh Lane's Corots'—one paper spelled the name repeatedly 'Crot'—being but 'an exotic fashion,' waited 'some satirist like Gilbert' who 'killed the æsthetic craze,' and as for the rest 'there were no greater humbugs in the world than art critics and so-called experts.' As the first avowed reason for opposition, the necessities of the poor got [186] but a few lines, not so many certainly as the objection of various persons to supply Sir Hugh Lane with 'a monument at the city's expense,' and as the gallery was supported by Mr. James Larkin, the chief Labour leader, and important slum workers, I assume that the purpose of the opposition was not exclusively charitable.

These controversies, political, literary, and artistic, have showed that neither religion nor politics can of itself create minds with enough receptivity to become wise, or just and generous enough to make a nation. Other cities have been as stupid—Samuel Butler laughs at shocked Montreal for hiding the Discobolus in a cellar—but Dublin is the capital of a nation, and an ancient race has nowhere else to look for an education. Goethe in Wilhelm Meister describes a saintly and naturally gracious woman, who getting into a quarrel over some trumpery detail of religious observance, grows—she and all her little religious community—angry and vindictive. In Ireland I am constantly reminded of that fable of the futility of all discipline that is not of the whole being. Religious Ireland—and the pious Protestants of my childhood were signal examples—thinks of divine things as a round of duties separated from life and not as an [187] element that may be discovered in all circumstance and emotion, while political Ireland sees the good citizen but as a man who holds to certain opinions and not as a man of good will. Against all this we have but a few educated men and the remnants of an old traditional culture among the poor. Both were stronger forty years ago, before the rise of our new middle class which showed as its first public event, during the nine years of the Parnellite split, how base at moments of excitement are minds without culture. 1914.

'Romantic Ireland's dead and gone' sounds old-fashioned now. It seemed true in 1913, but I did not foresee 1916. The late Dublin Rebellion, whatever one can say of its wisdom, will long be remembered for its heroism. 'They weighed so lightly what they gave,' and gave too in some cases without hope of success. July 1916.

The Dolls

The fable for this poem came into my head while I was giving some lectures in Dublin. I had noticed once again how all thought among us is frozen into 'something other than human life.' After I had made the poem, I looked up one day into the blue of the sky, and suddenly imagined, as if lost in the blue of the sky, stiff [188] figures in procession. I remembered that they were the habitual image suggested by blue sky, and looking for a second fable called them 'The Magi', complimentary forms to those enraged dolls.

The Hour-Glass

A friend suggested to me the subject of this play, an Irish folk-tale from Lady Wilde's Ancient Legends. I have for years struggled with something which is charming in the naive legend but a platitude on the stage. I did not discover till a year ago that if the wise man humbled himself to the fool and received salvation as his reward, so much more powerful are pictures than words, no explanatory dialogue could set the matter right. I was faintly pleased when I converted a music-hall singer and kept him going to Mass for six weeks, so little responsibility does one feel for those to whom one has never been introduced; but I was always ashamed when I saw any friend of my own in the theatre. Now I have made my philosopher accept God's will, whatever it is, and find his courage again, and helped by the elaboration of verse, have so changed the fable that it is not false to my own thoughts of the world.

Printed in the United States of America.


The following pages contain advertisements of
books by the same author or on kindred subjects.




Reveries Over Childhood and Youth


In this book the celebrated Irish author gives us his reminiscences of his childhood and youth. The memories are written, as is to be expected, in charming prose. They have the appeal invariably attached to the account of a sensitive childhood.

The Hour Glass and Other Plays


"The Hour Glass" is one of Mr. Yeats' noble and effective plays, and with the other plays in the volume, make a small, but none the less representative collection.

Stories of Red Hanrahan


These tales belong to the realm of pure lyrical expression. They are mysterious and shadowy, full of infinite subtleties and old wisdom of folklore, and sad with the gray wistful Celtic sadness.

"Lovers of Mr. Yeats's suggestive and delicate writing will find him at his best in this volume."—Springfield Republican.

Ideas of Good and Evil


Essays on art and life, wherein are set forth much of Yeats' philosophy, his love of beauty, his hope for Ireland and for Irish artistic achievement.

The Celtic Twilight


A collection of tales from Irish life and of Irish fancy, retold from peasants' stories with no additions except an occasional comment.

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York


The Cutting of an Agate

12mo, $1.50

"Mr. Yeats is probably the most important as well as the most widely known of the men concerned directly in the so-called Celtic renaissance. More than this, he stands among the few men to be reckoned with in modern poetry."—New York Herald.

The Green Helmet and Other Poems

Decorated cloth, 12mo, $1.25

The initial piece in this volume is a deliciously conceived heroic farce, quaint in humor and sprightly in action. It tells of the difficulty in which two simple Irish folk find themselves when they enter into an agreement with an apparition of the sea, who demands that they knock off his head and who maintains that after they have done that he will knock off theirs. There is a real meaning in the play which it will not take the thoughtful reader long to discover. Besides this there are a number of shorter poems, notably one in which Mr. Yeats answers the critics of "The Playboy of the Western World."

Lyrical and Dramatic Poems

In Two Volumes

Vol. I. Lyrical Poems, $1.75 Leather, $2.25
Vol. II. Plays (Revised), $2.00 Leather, $2.25

The two-volume edition of the Irish poet's works included everything he has done in verse up to the present time. The first volume contains his lyrics; the second includes all of his five dramas in verse: "The Countess Cathleen," "The Land of Heart's Desire," "The King's Threshold," "On Baile's Strand," and "The Shadowy Waters."

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York


The Quest


Author of "The Song of Hugh Glass"

Here are brought together the more important of Mr. Neihardt's poems. For some years there have been those—and prominent critics, too—who have quite emphatically maintained that there is no greater American poet than Mr. Neihardt, that in him are found those essentials which make for true art—a feeling for words, a lyric power of the first quality, an understanding of rhythm. Here, for example, is the comment of the Boston Transcript on the book just preceding this, The Song of Hugh Glass: "In this poem Mr. Neihardt touches life, power, beauty, spirit; the tremendous and impressive forces of nature.... The genius of American poetry is finding itself in such a poem as this.... The poem is powerfully poetic.... It is a big, sweeping thing blazing a pathway across the frontiers of our national life."



California is now to have its part in the poetry revival. Robinson Jeffers is a new poet, a man whose name is as yet unknown but whose work is of such outstanding character that once it is read he is sure of acceptance by those who have admired the writings of such men as John G. Neihardt, Edgar Lee Masters, Edwin Arlington Robinson and Thomas Walsh. Virtually all of the poems in this first collection have their setting in California, most of them in the Monterey peninsula, and they realize the scenery of the great State with vividness and richness of detail. The author's main source of inspiration has been the varying aspects of nature.

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York


Poems of the Great War


Here are brought together under the editorship of Dr. Cunliffe some of the more notable poems which have dealt with the great war. Among the writers represented are Rupert Brooke, John Masefield, Lincoln Colcord, William Benet, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, Hermann Hagedorn, Alfred Noyes, Rabindranath Tagore, Walter De La Mare, Vachel Lindsay and Owen Seaman.

The New Poetry: An Anthology

CORBIN HENDERSON, Editors of Poetry

Probably few people are following as closely the poetry of to-day as are the editors of the Poetry Magazine of Chicago. They are eminently fitted, therefore, to prepare such a volume as this, which is intended to represent the work that is being done by the leading poets of the land. Here, between the covers of one book, are brought together poems by a great many different writers, all of whom may be said to be responsible in a measure for the revival of interest in poetry in this country.

The Story of Eleusis


This is a lyrical drama, in the Greek manner, dealing with the story of Persephone. Mr. Ledoux has constructed such a play as might well have held the attention of the assembled mystæ at Eleusis. It is Greek. Better than this, it is also human. Its beauty and its truthfulness to life will appeal alike to the lover of classical and the lover of modern dramatic poetry.

Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York