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´╗┐Title: Seven Poems and a Fragment
Author: Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    All Souls' Night                                  Page 1

    Suggested by a Picture of a Black Centaur              6

    Thoughts upon the Present State of the World           7

    The New Faces                                         14

    A Prayer for My Son                                   14

    Cuchulain the Girl and the Fool                       16

    The Wheel                                             18

    A New End for 'The King's Threshold'                  18


    Note on 'Thoughts Upon the Present State of the
    World' Section Six                                    23

    Note on The New End to 'The King's Threshold'         24



  'Tis All Souls' Night and the great Christ Church bell,
  And many a lesser bell, sound through the room,
  For it is now midnight;
  And two long glasses brimmed with muscatel
  Bubble upon the table. A ghost may come,
  For it is a ghost's right,
  His element is so fine
  Being sharpened by his death,
  To drink from the wine-breath
  While our gross palates drink from the whole wine.

  I need some mind that, if the cannon sound
  From every quarter of the world, can stay
  Wound in mind's pondering,
  As mummies in the mummy-cloth are wound;
  Because I have a marvellous thing to say,
  A certain marvellous thing
  None but the living mock,
  Though not for sober ear;
  It may be all that hear
  Should laugh and weep an hour upon the clock.

  H--'s the first I call. He loved strange thought
  And knew that sweet extremity of pride
  That's called platonic love,
  And that to such a pitch of passion wrought
  Nothing could bring him, when his lady died,
  Anodyne for his love.
  Words were but wasted breath;
  One dear hope had he:
  The inclemency
  Of that or the next winter would be death.

  Two thoughts were so mixed up I could not tell
  Whether of her or God he thought the most,
  But think that his mind's eye,
  When upward turned, on one sole image fell,
  And that a slight companionable ghost,
  Wild with divinity,
  Had so lit up the whole
  Immense miraculous house,
  The Bible promised us,
  It seemed a gold-fish swimming in a bowl.

  On Florence Emery I call the next,
  Who finding the first wrinkles on a face
  Admired and beautiful,
  And knowing that the future would be vexed
  With 'minished beauty, multiplied commonplace,
  Preferred to teach a school,
  Away from neighbour or friend
  Among dark skins, and there
  Permit foul years to wear
  Hidden from eyesight to the unnoticed end.

  Before that end much had she ravelled out
  From a discourse in figurative speech
  By some learned Indian
  On the soul's journey. How it is whirled about,
  Wherever the orbit of the moon can reach,
  Until it plunged into the sun;
  And there free and yet fast,
  Being both Chance and Choice,
  Forget its broken toys
  And sink into its own delight at last.

  And I call up MacGregor from the grave,
  For in my first hard springtime we were friends,
  Although of late estranged.
  I thought him half a lunatic, half knave,
  And told him so, but friendship never ends;
  And what if mind seem changed,
  And it seem changed with the mind,
  When thoughts rise up unbid
  On generous things that he did
  And I grow half contented to be blind.

  He had much industry at setting out,
  Much boisterous courage, before loneliness
  Had driven him crazed;
  For meditations upon unknown thought
  Make human intercourse grow less and less;
  They are neither paid nor praised.
  But he'd object to the host,
  The glass because my glass;
  A ghost-lover he was
  And may have grown more arrogant being a ghost.

  But names are nothing. What matter who it be,
  So that his elements have grown so fine
  The fume of muscatel
  Can give his sharpened palate ecstasy
  No living man can drink from the whole wine.
  I have mummy truths to tell
  Whereat the living mock,
  Though not for sober ear,
  For maybe all that hear
  Should laugh and weep an hour upon the clock.

  Such thought--such thought have I that hold it tight
  Till meditation master all its parts,
  Nothing can stay my glance
  Until that glance run in the world's despite
  To where the damned have howled away their hearts,
  And where the blessed dance;
  Such thought, that in it bound
  I need no other thing
  Wound in mind's wandering,
  As mummies in the mummy-cloth are wound.


  Your hooves have stamped at the black margin of the wood,
  Even where the horrible green parrots call and swing.
  My works are all stamped down into the sultry mud.
  I knew that horse play, knew it for a murderous thing.
  What wholesome sun has ripened is wholesome food to eat
  And that alone, yet I being driven half insane
  Because of some green wing, gathered old mummy wheat
  In the mad abstract dark and ground it grain by grain
  And after baked it slowly in an oven; but now
  I bring full flavoured wine out of a barrel found
  Where seven Ephesian topers slept and never knew
  When Alexander's empire past, they slept so sound.
  Stretch out your limbs and sleep a long Saturnian sleep;
  I have loved you better than my soul for all my words,
  And there is none so fit to keep a watch and keep
  Unwearied eyes upon those horrible green birds.



  Many ingenious lovely things are gone
  That seemed sheer miracle to the multitude;
  Above the murderous treachery of the moon
  Or all that wayward ebb and flow. There stood
  Amid the ornamental bronze and stone
  An ancient image made of olive wood;
  And gone are Phidias' carven ivories
  And all his golden grasshoppers and bees.

  We too had many pretty toys when young;
  A law indifferent to blame or praise
  To bribe or threat; habits that made old wrong
  Melt down, as it were wax in the sun's rays;
  Public opinion ripening for so long
  We thought it would outlive all future days.
  O what fine thought we had because we thought
  That the worst rogues and rascals had died out.

  All teeth were drawn, all ancient tricks unlearned,
  And a great army but a showy thing;
  What matter that no cannon had been turned
  Into a ploughshare; parliament and king
  Thought that unless a little powder burned
  The trumpeters might burst with trumpeting
  And yet it lack all glory; and perchance
  The guardsmen's drowsy chargers would not prance.

  Now days are dragon-ridden, the nightmare
  Rides upon sleep: a drunken soldiery
  Can leave the mother, murdered at her door,
  To crawl in her own blood, and go scot-free;
  The night can sweat with terror as before
  We pieced our thoughts into philosophy,
  And planned to bring the world under a rule
  Who are but weasels fighting in a hole.

  He who can read the signs nor sink unmanned
  Into the half-deceit of some intoxicant
  From shallow wits, who knows no work can stand,
  Whether health, wealth or peace of mind were spent
  On master work of intellect or hand,
  No honour leave its mighty monument,
  Has but one comfort left: all triumph would
  But break upon his ghostly solitude.

  And other comfort were a bitter wound:
  To be in love and love what vanishes.
  Greeks were but lovers; all that country round
  None dared admit, if such a thought were his,
  Incendiary or bigot could be found
  To burn that stump on the Acropolis,
  Or break in bits the famous ivories
  Or traffic in the grasshoppers or bees?


  When Loie Fuller's Chinese dancers enwound
  A shining web, a floating ribbon of cloth,
  It seemed that a dragon of air
  Had fallen among dancers, had whirled them round
  Or hurried them off on its own furious path;
  So the platonic year
  Whirls out new right and wrong
  Whirls in the old instead;
  All men are dancers and their tread
  Goes to the barbarous clangour of gong.


  Some moralist or mythological poet
  Compares the solitary soul to a swan;
  I am content with that,
  Contented that a troubled mirror show it
  Before that brief gleam of its life be gone,
  An image of its state;
  The wings half spread for flight,
  The breast thrust out in pride
  Whether to play or to ride
  Those winds that clamour of approaching night.

  A man in his own secret meditation
  Is lost amid the labyrinth that he has made
  In art or politics;
  Some platonist affirms that in the station
  Where we should cast off body and trade
  The ancient habit sticks,
  And that if our works could
  But vanish with our breath
  That were a lucky death,
  For triumph can but mar our solitude.

  The swan has leaped into the desolate heaven:
  That image can bring wildness, bring a rage
  To end all things, to end
  What my laborious life imagined, even
  The half imagined, the half written page;
  O but we dreamed to mend
  Whatever mischief seemed
  To afflict mankind, but now
  That winds of winter blow
  Learn that we were crack-pated when we dreamed.


  We, who seven years ago
  Talked of honour and of truth,
  Shriek with pleasure if we show
  The weasel's twist, the weasel's tooth.


  Come let us mock at the great
  That had such burdens on the mind
  And toiled so hard and late
  To leave some monument behind,
  Nor thought of the levelling wind.

  Come let us mock at the wise;
  With all those calendars whereon
  They fixed old aching eyes,
  They never saw how seasons run,
  And now but gape at the sun.

  Come let us mock at the good
  That fancied goodness might be gay,
  Grown tired of their solitude,
  Upon some brand-new happy day:
  Wind shrieked--and where are they?

  Mock mockers after that
  That would not lift a hand maybe
  To help good, wise or great
  To bar that foul storm out, for we
  Traffic in mockery.


  Violence upon the roads: violence of horses;
  Some few have handsome riders, are garlanded
  On delicate sensitive ear or tossing mane,
  But wearied running round and round in their courses
  All break and vanish, and evil gathers head:
  Herodias' daughters have returned again
  A sudden blast of dusty wind and after
  Thunder of feet, tumult of images,
  Their purpose in the labyrinth of the wind;

  And should some crazy hand dare touch a daughter
  All turn with amorous cries, or angry cries,
  According to the wind, for all are blind.
  But now wind drops, dust settles; thereupon
  There lurches past, his great eyes without thought
  Under the shadow of stupid straw-pale locks,
  That insolent fiend Robert Artisson
  To whom the love-lorn Lady Kyteler brought
  Bronzed peacock feathers, red combs of her cocks.


  If you, that have grown old were the first dead
  Neither Caltapa tree nor scented lime
  Should hear my living feet, nor would I tread
  Where we wrought that shall break the teeth of time.
  Let the new faces play what tricks they will
  In the old rooms; night can outbalance day,
  Our shadows rove the garden gravel still,
  The living seem more shadowy than they.


  Bid a strong ghost stand at the head
  That my Michael may sleep sound,
  Nor cry, nor turn in the bed
  Till his morning meal come round;
  And may departing twilight keep
  All dread afar till morning's back
  That his mother may not lack
  Her fill of sleep.

  Bid the ghost have sword in hand:
  There are malicious things, although
  Few dream that they exist,
  Who have planned his murder, for they know
  Of some most haughty deed or thought
  That waits upon his future days,
  And would through hatred of the bays
  Bring that to nought.

  Though You can fashion everything
  From nothing every day, and teach
  The morning stars to sing,
  You have lacked articulate speech
  To tell Your simplest want, and known,
  Wailing upon a woman's knee,
  All of that worst ignominy
  Of flesh and bone;

  And when through all the town there ran
  The servants of Your enemy
  A woman and a man,
  Unless the Holy Writings lie,
  Have borne You through the smooth and rough
  And through the fertile and waste,
  Protecting till the danger past
  With human love.



  I am jealous of the looks men turn on you
  For all men love your worth; and I must rage
  At my own image in the looking-glass
  That's so unlike myself that when you praise it
  It is as though you praise another, or even
  Mock me with praise of my mere opposite;
  And when I wake towards morn I dread myself
  For the heart cries that what deception wins
  My cruelty must keep; and so begone
  If you have seen that image and not my worth.


  All men have praised my strength but not my worth.


  If you are no more strength than I am beauty
  I will find out some cavern in the hills
  And live among the ancient holy men,
  For they at least have all men's reverence
  And have no need of cruelty to keep
  What no deception won.


                     I have heard them say
  That men have reverence for their holiness
  And not their worth.


                God loves us for our worth;
  But what care I that long for a man's love.


  When my days that have
  From cradle run to grave
  From grave to cradle run instead;
  When thoughts that a fool
  Has wound upon a spool
  Are but loose thread, are but loose thread;

  When cradle and spool are past
  And I mere shade at last
  Coagulate of stuff
  Transparent like the wind,
  I think that I may find
  A faithful love, a faithful love.


  Through winter-time we call on spring,
  And through the spring on summer call,
  And when abounding hedges sing
  Declare that winter's best of all;
  And after that there's nothing good
  Because the spring-time has not come--
  Nor know that what disturbs our blood
  Is but its longing for the tomb.



  Die Seanchan and proclaim the right of the poets.


  Come nearer me, that I may know how face
  Differs from face, and touch you with my hands.
  O more than kin, O more than children could be,
  For children are but born out of our blood
  And share our frailty. O my chicks, my chicks,
  That I have nourished underneath my wings
  And fed upon my soul. (He stands up and begins to walk
  down steps) I need no help.
  He needs no help that joy has lifted up
  Like some miraculous beast out of Ezekiel.
  The man that dies has the chief part in the story,
  And I will mock and mock and mock that image yonder
  That evil picture in the sky--no, no--
  I have all my strength again, I will outface it.
  O look upon the moon that's standing there
  In the blue daylight--notice her complexion
  Because it is the white of leprosy
  And the contagion that afflicts mankind
  Falls from the moon. When I and these are dead
  We should be carried to some windy hill
  To lie there with uncovered face awhile
  That mankind and that leper there may know
  Dead faces laugh.
  (He falls and then half rises.)
                  King, king, dead faces laugh.
  (He dies)


  King, king, he is dead; some strange triumphant thought
  So filled his heart with joy that it has burst
  Being grown too mighty for our frailty,
  And we who gaze grow like him and abhor
  The moments that come between us and that death
  You promised us.


                      Take up his body.
  Go where you please and lay it where you please,
  So that I cannot see his face or any
  That cried him towards his death.


                                          Dead faces laugh!
  The ancient right is gone, the new remains
  And that is death.
  (They go towards the king holding out their halters)
                                       We are impatient men,
  So gather up the halters in your hands.


  Drive them away.
  (He goes into the palace. The soldiers block the way before
  the pupils.)


                                     Here is no place for you,
  For he and his pretensions now are finished.
  Begone before the men at arms are bidden
  To hurl you from the door.


                                          Take up his body
  And cry that driven from the populous door
  He seeks high waters and the mountain birds
  To claim a portion of their solitude.
  (They make a litter with cloak and staffs and lay Seanchan
  on it.)


  And cry that when they took his ancient right
  They took all common sleep; therefore he claims
  The mountain for his mattress and his pillow.


  And there he can sleep on, not noticing
  Although the world be changed from worse to worse,
  Amid the changeless clamour of the curlew.
  (They raise the litter on their shoulders and move a few steps)


                              (motioning to them to stop)
  Yet make triumphant music; sing aloud
  For coming times will bless what he has blessed
  And curse what he has cursed.


                                             No, no, be still;
  Or pluck a solemn music from the strings.
  You wrong his greatness speaking so of triumph.


  O silver trumpets, be you lifted up
  And cry to the great race that is to come.
  Long-throated swans upon the waves of time
  Sing loudly, for beyond the wall of the world
  That race may hear our music and awake.


  (motioning the musicians to lower their trumpets)
  Not what it leaves behind it in the light
  But what it carries with it to the dark
  Exalts the soul; nor song nor trumpet-blast
  Can call up races from the worsening world
  To mend the wrong and mar the solitude
  Of the great shade we follow to the tomb.
  (Fedelm and the pupils go out carrying the litter. Some play
  a mournful music.)


The country people see at times certain apparitions whom they name now
'fallen angels' now 'ancient inhabitants of the country,' and describe
as riding at whiles 'with flowers upon the heads of the horses.' I have
assumed in the sixth poem that these horsemen, now that the times
worsen, give way to worse. My last symbol Robert Artisson was an evil
spirit much run after in Kilkenny at the start of the fourteenth
century. Are not those who travel in the whirling dust also in the
Platonic Year?--W. B. Y.


Upon the revival of this play at the Abbey Theatre a few weeks ago it
was played with this new end. There were a few other changes. I had
originally intended to end the play tragically and would have done so
but for a friend who used to say 'O do write comedy & have a few happy
moments in the Theatre.' My unhappy moments were because a tragic effect
is very fragile and a wrong intonation, or even a wrong light or costume
will spoil it all. However the play remained always of the nature of
tragedy and so subject to vicissitude.

Here ends, 'Seven Poems and a Fragment:' by William Butler Yeats:
with a decoration by T. Sturge Moore. Five hundred copies of this book
have been printed and published by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats on paper made
in Ireland, at the Cuala Press, Churchtown, Dundrum, in the County of
Dublin, Ireland. Finished in the third week of April in the year
nineteen hundred and twenty-two.

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