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When you are old and gray and full of sleep And nodding by the fire, take down this book And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face. And bending down beside the glowing bars, Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled And paced upon the mountains overhead And hid his face amid a crowd of stars. When you are Old.
—  William Butler Yeats
A line will take us hours maybe; Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought, Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
—  William Butler Yeats
Come away, O human child!? To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand,? For the world's more full of weeping Than you can understand.
—  William Butler Yeats
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream His mind moves upon silence.
—  William Butler Yeats
The unpurged images of day recede; The Emperor's drunken soldiery are abed; Night resonance recedes, night-walkers' song After great cathedral gong.
—  William Butler Yeats
That toil of growing up; The ignominy of boyhood; the distress Of boyhood changing into man; The unfinished man and his pain.
—  William Butler Yeats
But what is Whiggery? A leveling, rancorous, rational sort of mind That never looked out of the eye of a saint Or out of a drunkard's eye.
—  William Butler Yeats
The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
—  William Butler Yeats
If a poet interprets a poem of his own he limits its suggestibility.
—  William Butler Yeats
No man has ever lived that had enough Of children's gratitude or woman's love.
—  William Butler Yeats
Hands, do what you're bid: Bring the balloon of the mind That bellies and drags in the wind Into its narrow shed.
—  William Butler Yeats
Swift has sailed into his rest; Savage indignation there Cannot lacerate his breast Imitate him if you dare, World-besotted traveler; he Served human liberty.
—  William Butler Yeats
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight, Nor public men, nor cheering crowds, A lonely impulse of delight Drove to this tumult in the clouds.
—  William Butler Yeats
The only business of the head in the world is to bow a ceaseless obeisance to the heart.
—  William Butler Yeats
Art bids us touch and taste and hear and see the world, and shrinks from what Blake calls mathematic form, from every abstract form, from all that is of the brain only.
—  William Butler Yeats
Does the imagination dwell the most Upon a woman won or a woman lost?
—  William Butler Yeats
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.
—  William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
—  William Butler Yeats
O heart! O heart! if she'd but turn her head You'd know the folly of being comforted.
—  William Butler Yeats
He that sings a lasting song Thinks in a marrowbone.
—  William Butler Yeats
I knew a phoenix in my youth, so let them have their day.
—  William Butler Yeats
I carry the sun in a golden cup, The moon in a silver bag.
—  William Butler Yeats
How many loved your moments of glad grace And loved your beauty with love false or true But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
—  William Butler Yeats
And many a poor man that has roved Loved and thought himself beloved From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.
—  William Butler Yeats
An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress.
—  William Butler Yeats
At midnight on the Emperor's pavement flit Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit.
—  William Butler Yeats
Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire.
—  William Butler Yeats
A pity beyond all telling Is hid in the heart of love.
—  William Butler Yeats
O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer, Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole? O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, How can we know the dancer from the dance.
—  William Butler Yeats
Be secret and exult, Because of all things known That is most difficult.
—  William Butler Yeats
Things said or done long years ago Or things I did not do or say But thought that I might say or do, Weigh me down, and not a day But something is recalled, My conscience or my vanity appalled.
—  William Butler Yeats
I had still the ambition, formed in Sligo in my teens, of living in imitation of Thoreau on Innisfree, a little island in Lough Gill, and when walking through Fleet Street very homesick I heard a little tinkle of water and saw a fountain in a shop window which balanced a little ball upon its jet, and began to remember lake water. From the sudden remembrance came my poem Innisfree.
—  William Butler Yeats
Speech after long silence; it is right, All other lovers being estranged or dead ... That we descant and yet again descant Upon the supreme theme of Art and Song: Bodily decrepitude is wisdom; young We loved each other and were ignorant.
—  William Butler Yeats
Evil comes to all us men of imagination wearing as its mask all the virtues.
—  William Butler Yeats
All hatred driven hence, The soul recovers radical innocence And learns at last that it is self-delighting, Self-appeasing, self-affrighting, And that its own sweet will is Heaven's will
—  William Butler Yeats
Everything that man esteems Endures a moment or a day. Love's pleasure drives his love away, The painter's brush consumes his dreams.
—  William Butler Yeats
Consume my heart away, sick with desire And fastened to a dying animal It knows not what it is, and gather me Into the artifice of eternity.
—  William Butler Yeats
I made my song a coat Covered with embroideries Out of old mythologies From heel to throat But the fools caught it, Wore it in the world's eyes As though they'd wrought it. Song, let them take it, For there's more enterprise In walking naked.
—  William Butler Yeats
Much did I rage when young, Being by the world oppressed, But now with flattering tongue It speeds the parting guest.
—  William Butler Yeats
A thought Of that late death took all my heart for speech.
—  William Butler Yeats
My temptation is quiet. Here at life's end Neither loose imagination Nor the mill of the mind Consuming its rag and bone, Can make the truth known.
—  William Butler Yeats
Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.
—  William Butler Yeats
What were all the world's alarms To mighty Paris when he found Sleep upon a golden bed That first dawn in Helen's arms?
—  William Butler Yeats
On limestone quarried near the spot By his command these words are cut: Cast a cold eye On life, on death. Horseman, pass by!
—  William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;? While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,? I hear it in the deep heart's core.
—  William Butler Yeats
The woods of Arcady are dead, And over is their antique joy; Of old the world on dreaming fed Gray Truth is now her painted toy.
—  William Butler Yeats
Now that my ladder's gone, I must lie down where all the ladders start, In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.
—  William Butler Yeats
An intellectual hatred is the worst, So let her think opinions are accursed. Have I not seen the loveliest woman born Out of the mouth of Plenty's horn, Because of her opinionated mind Barter that horn and every good By quiet natures understood For an old bellows full of angry wind?
—  William Butler Yeats
And pluck till time and times are done The silver apples of the moon The golden apples of the sun.
—  William Butler Yeats
Fifteen apparitions have I seen; The worst a coat upon a coat-hanger.
—  William Butler Yeats
Ecstasy is from the contemplation of things vaster than the individual and imperfectly seen perhaps, by all those that still live.
—  William Butler Yeats
And I may dine at journey's end With Landor and with Donne.
—  William Butler Yeats
All perform their tragic play, There struts Hamlet, there is Lear.
—  William Butler Yeats
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.
—  William Butler Yeats
It's certain that fine women eat A crazy salad with their meat.
—  William Butler Yeats
Nothing that we love overmuch Is ponderable to our touch.
—  William Butler Yeats
The true faith discovered was When painted panel, statuary, Glass-mosaic, window-glass, Amended what was told awry By some peasant gospeler.
—  William Butler Yeats
Imagining in excited reverie That the future years had come, Dancing to a frenzied drum, Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
—  William Butler Yeats
Odor of blood when Christ was slain Made all Platonic tolerance vain And vain all Doric discipline.
—  William Butler Yeats
I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
—  William Butler Yeats
Under bare Ben Bulben's head In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
—  William Butler Yeats
Irish poets, learn your trade, Sing whatever is well made.
—  William Butler Yeats
The Land of Faery, Where nobody gets old and godly and grave, Where nobody gets old and crafty and wise Where nobody gets old and bitter of tongue.
—  William Butler Yeats
It's certain there is no fine thing Since Adam's fall but needs much laboring.
—  William Butler Yeats
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.
—  William Butler Yeats
Locke sank into a swoon; The Garden died; God took the spinning-jenny Out of his side.
—  William Butler Yeats
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 leveling wind.
—  William Butler Yeats
Only God, my dear, Could love you for yourself alone And not your yellow hair.
—  William Butler Yeats
Somewhere beyond the curtain Of distorting days Lives that lonely thing That shone before these eyes Targeted, trod like Spring.
—  William Butler Yeats
Land of Heart's Desire Where beauty has no ebb, decay no flood, But joy is wisdom, time an endless song.
—  William Butler Yeats
Lord, what would they say Did their Catullus walk that way?
—  William Butler Yeats
The worst thing about some men is that when they are not drunk they are sober.
—  William Butler Yeats
I am content to live it all again And yet again, if it be life to pitch Into the frog-spawn of a blind man's ditch.
—  William Butler Yeats
The intellect of man is forced to choose Perfection of the life, or of the work, And if it take the second must refuse A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
—  William Butler Yeats
Out of our quarrels with others we make rhetoric. Out of our quarrels with ourselves we make poetry.
—  William Butler Yeats
I gave what other women gave That stepped out of their clothes But when this soul, its body off Naked to naked goes, He it has found shall find therein What none other knows.
—  William Butler Yeats
To the waters, and the wild, with a Faerie, hand in hand, for the world is more full of weeping ... than you can understand.
—  William Butler Yeats
Grant me an old man's frenzy, Myself must I remake Till I am Timon and Lear Or that William Blake Who beat upon the wall Till Truth obeyed his call.
—  William Butler Yeats

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