Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats #1

The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats

Rate this book
The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats includes all of the poems authorized by Yeats for inclusion in his standard canon. Breathtaking in range, it encompasses the entire arc of his career, from luminous reworking of ancient Irish myths and legends, to passionate meditations on the demands and rewards of youth and old age, from exquisite, occasionally whimsical songs of love, nature, and art to somber and angry poems of life in a nation torn by war and uprising. In observing the development of rich and recurring images and themes over the course of his body of work, we can trace the quest of this century's greatest poet to unite intellect and artistry in a single magnificent vision.

Revised and corrected, this edition includes Yeat's own notes on his poetry, complemented by explanatory notes from esteemed Yeats scholar Richard J. Finneran. The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats is the most comprehensive edition of one of the world's most beloved poets available in paperback.

544 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1933

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

W.B. Yeats

1,386 books2,306 followers
William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and along with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, serving as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation." He was the first Irishman so honored. Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929).

Yeats was born and educated in Dublin but spent his childhood in County Sligo. He studied poetry in his youth, and from an early age was fascinated by both Irish legends and the occult. Those topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and those slow paced and lyrical poems display debts to Edmund Spenser and Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as to the Pre-Raphaelite poets. From 1900, Yeats' poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life.
--from Wikipedia

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
18,561 (48%)
4 stars
12,321 (32%)
3 stars
5,571 (14%)
2 stars
1,249 (3%)
1 star
643 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 487 reviews
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews41 followers
April 11, 2022
The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats (The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats #1), W.B. Yeats, Richard J. Finneran (Editor)

To a child dancing in the wind

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 the wind?

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و نهم آگوست سال2013میلادی

عنوان: دریانوردی به سمت بیزانس؛ نویسنده و شاعر: وی‍ل‍ی‍ام‌ ب‍ات‍ل‍ر ی‍ی‍ت‍س‌؛ مترجم: رزا جمالی؛ در112ص؛ موضوع: شعر شاعران ایرلند - سده19م

نقل یک شعر (میدانم
که تقدیرم را خواهم دید
جایی میان ابرها آن بالا
میجنگم با آنها اما کینه‌ ای در دل ندارم
حفظ می‌کنم آنها را اما دوست ندارمشان
سرزمین من گذر روستایی کلتارتان است
هموطنان من، مردمانِ بیچاره‌ ی کلتارتان
و شاید که در انتها نبازند
و رهاشان میکنم شادمان‌تر از پیش
نه قانونیست
و نه وظیفه‌ ای
چیزی مرا به جنگ حکم نداده
نه مردانی عادی و نه گروهی به شادی
این میلی‌ست تنها به شادمانی
که ما را به آشوب ابرها برد
همه را نگه‌ داشته‌ ام من
همه را به خاطر می‌آورم
سال‌هایی که می‌آیند
سال‌هایی که در آن نفس‌هامان حرام شده
این مرگ را با زندگی می‌سنجم و نگه‌ داشته‌ ام)؛ پایان

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 21/04/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,321 followers
October 17, 2016
"For books continue each other, in spite of our habit of judging them separately."

This quote from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One's Own comes to my mind when I sit down to have a closer look at one of my favourite poets. For it wasn’t Yeats I was searching for when I went through my shelves today. It was Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe’s classic novel. Seeing Yeats in the shelf, however, I remembered that the title is from his famous poem “The Second Coming”, and I opened the earmarked poetry collection, full of post-its and comments. And sure enough, there was a pink post-it showing the way to the lines I wanted:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold,
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;...”

Knowing the story of Things Fall Apart, it makes my heart break to think of the proud falcon in his natural habitat, suddenly threatened by the falconer with his sly methods and superior weapons, killing out of pleasure - a careless sportsmanship. This story in my mind takes a leap to present times, seeing it is still just as relevant, in many places, and I am mourning the contemporary falcon’s lost spirit in a world of falconers, destroying things because they can. The centre cannot hold.

Reading on, I get curious to see where all my sticky notes indicate that my attention was sharpened, and of course, I find my handwriting next to a poem on a young man going to war. How could I not, reading this the last time in conjunction with The Poems Of Wilfred Owen?

“An Irish Airman Foresees his Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;

The sad truth of World War I, best expressed maybe in poetry or novels like All Quiet on the Western Front. And as a counterpoint, with a sticky note in a different colour:

“On Being Asked For A War Poem

I think it better that in times like these
A poet’s mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter’s night.”

I remember pondering on the conundrum of accepting these lines as perfect truth while also being grateful that Yeats had not remained silent after all, that he had expressed his thoughts over and over again, in dramatic, long, narrative poems and short, lyrical ones, in stories of common people and kings and queens, in real-life poems and fairy tales. He had not been silent at all, but he resisted the command to produce poetry for politicians, to shout out the ancient heroic ideal “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” before sending soldiers to living hell.

He wrote his own truth, and that of the island he loved and the culture he cherished. To review all his poems, and make them justice, would be a life time’s work. My favourite love poem is to be found in his collection as well:

“When You are Old

When you are old and grey 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.”

I can’t read that often enough. “The pilgrim soul in you” sends a shiver down my spine every single time. Before I close the collection, my eye catches a poem that is not earmarked yet, that I must have read without thinking much about it last time. But now, it yells out its truth to me in a disturbing way:

“Why should not Old Men be Mad?”

Why should not old men be mad?
Some have known a likely lad
That had a sound fly-fisher’s wrist
Turn to a drunken journalist;
A girl that knew all Dante once
Live to bear children to a dunce;
A Helen of social welfare dream
Climb on a wagonette and scream.
Some think it a matter of course that chance
Should starve good men and bad advance,
That if their neighbours figured plain,
As though upon a lighted screen,
No single story would they find
Of an unbroken happy mind,
A finish worthy of the start.
Young men know nothing of this sort,
Observant old men know it well;
And when they know what old books tell,
And that no better can be had,
Know why an old man should be mad.”

It may be a sign of me getting older that I identify more and more with the disillusion of experience, but at the same time, reading poetry like this makes me feel passionately involved in life still!

Yeats is a timeless treat!
Profile Image for Kevin Kuhn.
Author 2 books582 followers
June 23, 2021
I don’t typically go for poetry, but I’m working on a project where a cursory understanding of Irish literature is helpful. I enjoyed this collection, although I must admit that much of it was beyond me at some level. This collection includes a variety of Yeats’ styles – lyrical, narrative, and dramatic. It also spans from 1889 to 1939.

Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild.
With a faery, hand in hand, more full of weeping than you can understand.

At first, I simply read the poems and let the words wash over me. I understood a few poems and parts of others, but many are so abstract (or using older language and references) that the meaning went right past me. I was surprised to find that, on some level, I was still enjoying the prose without fully understanding the intention. But Yeats prose is so creative and artistic that I find it pleasing. I enjoyed his short early lyrical poems much more than his later dramatic epics.

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance

After reading much of the book, I went back and tried to pick apart some of the poems. It required some intense thought and some deep internet searches. While this process wasn’t exactly fun, it did help me, on a novice level, to begin to appreciate his mastery. He mixes nature, Irish myths and occultism, romanticism, and politics. He spins these concepts into webs of dense allusions and compact imagery. There is such a level of abstraction, and I can’t help but wonder about his process when he wrote these. Did he start out simply and then revise the lines into deeper and deeper levels of abstraction? Did his mind (and education/background/experience) allow such creative and intricate ideas to just flow onto the paper?

All things hang, like a drop of dew
Upon a blade of grass

I know there are criticisms of Yeats, and yes, the poems are full of dew drops and streams and sea foam, but who cares? When you’re struggling to find beauty in the world/humanity, sometimes nature is all you can turn to. His work is also flawed in the ways that society was flawed in the late 17th century, such as chauvinism.

I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.

I also understand he was a force behind the Irish Literary Revival. In the end, I’m not sure his criticism of society and politics was as effective as his pure eloquence and mastery of lyrics. A genius that created passionate, varied, and immortal poetry.
Profile Image for Alan.
Author 6 books302 followers
December 10, 2022
I have given hourlong recitations of Yeats's poems, among the easiest to recall in English; for example, his tetrameters in the late "Under Ben Bulben" which contains his epitaph. I defy you to say this aloud three times without knowing most of it by heart: "Whether man dies in his bed,/ Or the rifle knocks him dead,/ A brief parting from those dear/ Is the worst man has to fear." And his own epitaph is memorable, "Cast a cold eye/ On life, on death/ Horseman, pass by!" It is anti-conventional, since most epitaphs were written by clergy to scare the readers back to church, like this one in Pittsfield, MA: "Corruption, earth and worms/ Shall but refine this flesh..." etc. I seriously doubt the interred was consulted about that one. Yeats counters, look at this grave, and fogggetaboutit, Pass by!

By memory I still have "When you are old," his adaptation of Ronsard, "Lake Isle of Innisfree," so imitative of the water lapping the shores, in its medial caesuras, "I hear lake water lapping...Though I stand on the roadway..I shall arise and go now..." And so interesting that WBY first had a truism, "There noon is all a glimmer, and midnight a purple glow," which he reversed to the memorable, "There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon has a purple glow..." Ahh... a useful trick for writers. (My Ph.D. advisor Leonard Unger noted the influence of Meredith on Innisfree.) "The Second Coming," whose opening I said in my flight fears of landing. The problem in reciting that poem is "The worst are full of passionate intensity." I had to reduce the intensity of my aloudreading. "Sailing to Byzantium," and others.
I have also set to music seven of Yeats' poems, including "Brown Penny," "Her Anxiety," "Lullaby," and even "Crazy Jane talks to the Bishop." "Brown Penny" and "Her Anxiety" can be heard on clyp.it under FB pseudonym Alan Bruno. (Glen McKillop on Fleugel Horn.) Scroll down past my other music compositions (like Dylan Thomas's "Death Shall Have No Dominion" for SATB, cello teombone and again, Fleugel Horn) and a few nature recordings, like Yeats's "lake water lapping" at a local reservoir.

Yeats's son Michael, fathered in his late fifties, toured the US in the 70s. A friend in the Berkshires heard him recall his father mainly shooing him from the room to write or recite. Sounds accurate. (Maybe that's why Shakespeare lived in London, his kids in Stratford!)
I mentioned learning Yeats at Leonard Unger's knee, but also from Chester Anderson, Joycean and Irish specialist. (For a pic of Leonard and his good friend Saul Bellow, see my pseudonymous FB page, "Alan P Bruno," scroll down. I arrived a few years later, after Bellow had left for U Chicago, and after Bob Zimmerman/Dylan had dropped out in disgust at his Freshman English from someone like me.)
Profile Image for Szplug.
467 reviews1,257 followers
April 15, 2013
Not everything in here works for me, but Yeats is never less than a pleasure to read. As others have remarked upon, he's what one might describe as a proper poet: his rhythmic structure and rhymes flow off of the reading tongue—and at his best, he cannot be touched for the ariose beauty of his lyrical genius.
Before the World Was Made

If I make the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And the lips more scarlet,
Or ask if all be right
From mirror after mirror,
No vanity's displayed:
I'm looking for the face I had
Before the world was made.

What if I look upon a man
As though on my beloved,
And my blood be cold the while
And my heart unmoved?
Why should he think me cruel
Or that he is betrayed?
I'd have him love the thing that was
Before the world was made.
One of my favourites below, a lengthy verse that captures the very essence of disillusion amidst the wreckage of an apparent bounty of promise and progression. Yeats rises to the heights yet wielding the language of ash and benightment; no paens to the fey primordiality of Eire here, but rather poesy shaped with withering power:
Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen

Many ingenious lovely things are gone
That seemed sheer miracle to the multitude,
protected from the circle of the moon
That pitches common things about. There stood
Amid the ornamental bronze and stone
An ancient image made of olive wood --
And gone are Phidias' famous ivories
And all the 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.

But is there any comfort to be found?
Man is in love and loves what vanishes,
What more is there to say? 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 a gong.

Some moralist or mythological poet
Compares the solitary soul to a swan;
I am satisfied with that,
Satisfied if 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,
And sick of solitude
Might proclaim a holiday:
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.
Profile Image for Leo ..
Author 2 books382 followers
December 21, 2017
Just looking at my bookcase and brushing off some old books covered in dust. Man how did I miss Yeats? Literary genius. 👍🐯
Profile Image for Biblio Curious.
233 reviews8,273 followers
September 9, 2019
Still my favourite poet of all time! Read this one cover to cover, spent heaps of time leisurely sifting through these evocative, elliptic lines of eternity. Gyres, skies, stars & wisdom ensues. The meaning, like a carefully crafted lake of silent water, tilted ever so slightly that the form is just out of your mind's reach. If these mysterious words draw you in & make you curious, perhaps this poetry collection is for you. If they repel you, perhaps Wordsworth is your kind of poet. It takes at least a Wordsworth, Blake, Ovid & perhaps Ferdowsi to all combine, creating the mastery that is Yeats. With of course the occasional rebellious spirit that's a musically gifted Morrison of mystery.


W.B. Yeats bought a signed 1st edition of Ulysses!

Yeat's poetry is deeply philosophical and moving. A Dialogue of Self and Soul is still a top favorite poem of all time for me.

Reference for 1st edition info:
Profile Image for Alexis Hall.
Author 51 books11.7k followers
May 13, 2015
Okay. Cards on the table.

I'm not actually that into Yeats. I mean, he's fine, don't get me wrong. Kind of an interesting dude with his Cabalism and his Jacob Black-esque mother-to-daughter romantic transference thing.

And some of his poetry I can't deny is pretty impressive stuff: the one about wishing for the cloths of the heaven, and the second coming, and the lake isle of innisfree. All that silver apples of the moon stuff. Very nice.

But, honestly, I used to keep this on my bedside table in order to look sensitive so arty types would sleep with me.

It, uh, did the job. FIVE STARS!
Profile Image for Matt.
1,034 reviews667 followers
January 7, 2016

Yeats, Yeats, what can you say?

Ireland. Mysticism. Longing. Despair. PO-etry!

This is a surprisingly consistent, formidable, subtle and wide ranging oeuvre and I'm not the only person to have overheard the suggestion that Yeats was the greatest poet of the 20th Century.

Lets not forget the influence. Not only in Ireland but in elsewhere, as part of some variation on the human cultural inheritance. As far as I can tell, there were at least three major (to my mind, anyway) poets who admitted that when they were coming up they didn't just want to be LIKE Yeats, they wanted to BE Yeats, as one of them put it.*

I mean, granted, he's insufferably emo (He Mourns the Change That Has Come Upon Him and His Beloved, and He Wishes For The World To End). He's tripping through the daisies, twisting his ankle, breaking his glasses, while he sings to the sun. He can't get over the fact that Maude Gonne won't let him even think about taking her shirt off, but she's a unique, mercurial, assured young woman with a pilgrim soul in her, which her darling poet loves. I mean, He Who Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, When You Are Old, No Second Troy, Down By the Salley Gardens, and on and on...

And then there's this:

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

You're right there, in a dream, in HIS dream, it's the Song of Wandering Aengus. A whole enchanted world is created, in perfect meter and with metronomyic lullaby. You believe him, somehow, or at least you believe the story.

Do you mean to tell me that you doubt Wandering Aengus?

Nu-uh. No way. It's in the repetition of the imagery and the phrases in the last few lines. It's the way the whole details of the story are told, unveiled, bit by bit. Just a touch, a glance, a little Keatsian faery girl, a belle dame sans merci with a perfect alibi.

The mysticism is there, and it's hazy and, er, full of mist and glowing eyes and faery wings and stolen children and dolphins and mechanical birds in Byzantium and Helen of Troy and eternal roses and astrology and gods incarnating in the form of a swans while they fuck humans and darkness and eternity and "the murderous innocence of the sea"...ruins and secret fountains and rolling hills and caves (WBY slept in one for awhile, you country boys know how it gets when the evenings wind on endlessly under a deep summer sky) and witches and little clay-wattle huts, far from the pavement's gray, by a lazy river deep in Innisfree.

And he can get political. I mean, this was a guy whose poetry and drama were front-row-seat essential to the literary lives and times of a centuries-subjugated, colonized, demoralized, quasi-Modern nation that underwent the convulsion of the failure of the Easter Rising in his day, to mention but one event amid the caterwaul of Ireland dragging itself kicking and screaming into the 20th Century.

Yeats was a lover not a fighter, no dewy doubt about that, but he grappled with the living nightmare of history with sober eyes and a wide view of the horizon. By the way, that living nightmare bit was deliberate, ifyouknowwhatI'msayin', and rumor has it a cocky, mouthy young lad once approached the smiling public man in the streets and told him that he was too old to talk some sense into him and subsequently absconded to the continent and proceeded to write Dubliners, Portrait and so on and so forth...

It's not so much that WBY was afraid or unwilling to enter into the burgeoning roil and confusion of the modern world (Lightbulbs! Radios! Trench Warefare! Relativity! Quantum theory! Dada! Jazz! Ezra Pound! Girls who smoke and gleefully shag sailors and stockbrokers and poets, too, but not poor Willy Yeats, by the looks of things, much to his eternal chagrin...) and his glassy-eyed, bookish haunting of wild Ireland starts to sound more like wish fulfillment or the pleasure principle, I can't remember which. It's more that I think he played a small(ish) but significant part in a larger, more complex, historically embedded and quite bloody awful historical moment.

I mean, he had to live with praising the soldier who was married to his beloved (and screwing around on her, btw, for the record) in a stoic and bitter and ruminating poem about a failed rebellion which he definitively supported and he was big enough to bite down hard and publish the thing anyway...

No, I think it's ok to give WBY the benefit of the doubt on this one. Mad Ireland hurt him into poetry. He knew damn well that words can have consequences, just like actions, and it's all well and good to huddle up by a candle in the library and proclaim your love for a woman or for the motherland or for Freedom and Justice or whatever but it's quite something else indeed to publicly submit one's statements for the record, when everybody's listening...

All that I have said and done,
Now that I am old and ill,
Turns into a question till
I lie awake night after night
And never get the answers right.
Did that play of mine send out
Certain men the English shot?
Did words of mine put too great strain
On that woman’s reeling brain?
Could my spoken words have checked
That whereby a house lay wrecked?

It takes a lot of sand to ask yourself that question.

Then there's this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXe6Ja...

How many times has this been quoted, from all over the body of the poem, particularly in places where its ominousness and austere power of facing, the apocalyptic mood that slowly spreads from word to word, from image to image...the speaker knows all this, somehow, and he is just as overwhelmed by it as anyone else.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

'Twas it not ever thus?

Where else? You can go for days. I had a teacher for Irish lit who once remarked, quite off the cuff, that nobody gets more out of a line that WBY.

By way of demonstration:

That civilisation may not sink,
Its great battle lost,
Quiet the dog, tehter the pony
To a distant post;
Our master Caesar is in the tent
Where the maps are spread,
His eyes fixed upon nothing,
A hand upon his head.
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

That the topless towers be burnt
And men recall that face,
Move most gently if move you must
In this lonely place.
She thinks, part woman, three parts a child,
That nobody looks; her feet
Practise a tinker shuffle
Picked up on a street.
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
Her mind moves upon silence.

That girls at puberty may find
The first Adam in their thought,
Shut the door of the Pope's chapel,
Keep those children out.
There on that scaffolding resides
Michael Angelo.
With no more sound than the mice make
His hand moves to and fro.
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

You know that feeling you get when poetry happens? That quiet, satisfied hum that you do after the poem has finished, and begins to dissipate into the air. After the visitation. That quiet, hushed, ruminating feeling. Something is happening here and you don't know what it is...

My best friend is a big fan of the show Lost. I've never seen it, myself, but it comes highly recommended and all that. The point being, he is fond of quoting the character Dexter, who is (I think) a Scottish guy given to charisma and/or eloquence or something. He's find of quoting Dexter's exultant, exuberant phrase "that's just POETRY, bruther"!

I've never heard him *actually* say it, but I think I know what he means. What it is. What he's getting at. What it's all about.

And if this stuff isn't it, then count me out of the human race.

* Now, granted, the three poets I'm thinking of (Philip Larkin, John Berryman and Delmore Schwartz, if you're keeping score at home- and you should be) were, in their ways, degenerate pathetic alcoholics and therefore their somewhat maudlin affections for WBY might have been some kind of unconscious identification or projection onto the starry-eyed, gnomic singer of ballads and player of harps and whatnot, but still. Influence is a big indicator of admiration, y'see, like imitation and flattery, especially in the notoriously competitive vineyards of literature...
Profile Image for sunia..
34 reviews6 followers
May 11, 2023
apologies to anyone who was expecting to read some well-written review, because I must say, Yeats really did love women's hair and eyes!
and heavens, is his writing magnificent.
my favourite poems, which I think you should definitely read even if you are not planning to read all of his work:

• the ballad of father gilligan
• the moods
• the lover tells of the rose in his heart
• the rose of peace
• the lover mourns because of his wanderings
• he wishes for the cloths of heaven
(this one certainly made me gasp)
• the withering of the boughs
• Adam's curse
• the old men admiring themselves in the water
• the happy townland
• the lake isle of innisfree
• the sorrow of love
• when you are old
• the ballad of father gilligan
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
April 18, 2010
My favourite piece of Yeats, which I've known since I was a teenager. I've never really figured out what it means, but I think it's wonderful all the same:
Rose of all Roses, Rose of all the World!
You, too, have come where the dim tides are hurled
Upon the wharves of sorrow, and heard ring
The bell that calls us on; the sweet far thing.
Beauty grown sad with its eternity
Made you of us, and of the dim grey sea.
Our long ships loose thought-woven sails and wait,
For God has bid them share an equal fate;
And when at last defeated in His wars,
They have gone down under the same white stars,
We shall no longer hear the little cry
Of our sad hearts, that may not live nor die.
354 reviews132 followers
October 3, 2017
The poetry was very good but rather depressing. I believe he could have used some happy pills. I would recommend it to all however.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
Profile Image for Czarny Pies.
2,531 reviews1 follower
August 8, 2017
In the fall of my last year in high school, I read extensively from this book in order to prepare my fall term paper. I chose Yeats because the Clancy Brothers occasionally included readings of poems by Yeats on their records and in their concerts. Given that the Clancy Brothers were very close Bob Dylan they constituted for me an important authority.

Looking back I realized now what an anomaly Yeats was. He was a master of cadence, sound and rhyme skills that are no longer valued by English poets. No one since Yeats has written poems to be recited in taverns.

I applaud the Nobel Academy for having awarded the 2016 Literature Prize to Bob Dylan. I cannot think of any poet who loved the English language as much as he did. Yeats in some measure however small would have been one of Dylan's sources of inspiration. At a minimum Dylan would have known the Host of the Air and the other Yeats poems in the repertory of the Clancy Brothers.

To hear a masterful version of Yeats Host of the air, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyPc6...
Profile Image for Justin Wiggins.
Author 23 books127 followers
July 16, 2022
This great Irish poet won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1923, and he certainly deserved it! I really enjoyed this book of his poems. My favorites are He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, The Song of Wandering Aengus, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, and The Wanderings of Oisin. I will be taking this book with me to Dublin, Ireland soon! I have missed Ireland!
Profile Image for Liz Janet.
579 reviews383 followers
May 4, 2016
The woods of Arcady are dead,
And over is their antique joy;
Of old the world on dreaming fed;
Grey Truth is now her painted toy;
Yet still she turns her restless head:

Everything he writes is beauty personified, from his love poems to his Irish mythology.

We sat grown quiet at the name of love;
We saw the last embers of daylight die,
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time’s waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.

Profile Image for Nick.
136 reviews42 followers
July 26, 2017
If not for The Wanderings of Oisin, this was a 2.5/5.

I think half of Yeats's poems include the word "dew." It's used so many times it actually increasingly pissed me off with each successive occurrence and almost culminated in my throwing the book across the room.

Joyce was entirely right in his criticism of Yeats.

Save for a few good poems, the rest are entirely forgettable.
Profile Image for Libby.
355 reviews78 followers
May 8, 2009
Aaah W.B, you were my first love! The first poet that ever made me cry real tears purely from the beauty of words. I travelled from the other side of the world to visit your grave and leave you flowers as thanks.
It is very hard to pick a favourite poem but if pressed on the subject I guess it would be:

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with the golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams...
Profile Image for E. G..
1,112 reviews684 followers
July 14, 2016


Crossways (1889)
--The Song of the Happy Shepherd
--The Sad Shepherd
--The Cloak, the Boat, and the Shoes
--Anashuya and Vijaya
--The Indian upon God
--The Indian to his Love
--The Falling of the Leaves
--The Madness of King Goll
--The Stolen Child
--To an Isle in the Water
--Down by the Salley Gardens
--The Meditation of the Old Fisherman
--The Ballad of Father O'Hart
--The Ballad of Moll Magee
--The Ballad of the Foxhunter

The Rose (1893)
--To the Rose upon the Rood of Time
--Fergus and the Druid
--Cuchulain's Fight with the Sea
--The Rose of the World
--The Rose of Peace
--The Rose of Battle
--A Faery Song
--The Lake Isle of Innisfree
--A Cradle Song
--The Pity of Love
--The Sorrow of Love
--When You are Old
--The White Birds
--A Dream of Death
--The Countess Cathleen in Paradise
--Who goes with Fergus?
--The Man who dreamed of Faeryland
--The Dedication to a Book of Stories selected from the Irish Novelists
--The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner
--The Ballad of Father Gilligan
--The Two Trees
--To Some I have Talked with by the Fire
--To Ireland in the Coming Times

The Wind Among the Reeds (1899)
--The Hosting of the Sidhe
--The Everlasting Voices
--The Moods
--The Lover tells of the Rose in his Heart
--The Host of the Air
--The Fish
--The Unappeasable Host
--Into the Twilight
--The Song of Wandering Aengus
--The Song of the Old Mother
--The Heart of the Woman
--The Lover mourns for the Loss of Love
--He mourns for the Change that has come upon Him and his Beloved, and longs for the End of the World
--He bids his Beloved be at Peace
--He reproves the Curlew
--He remembers forgotten Beauty
--A Poet to his Beloved
--He gives his Beloved certain Rhymes
--To his Heart, bidding it have no Fear
--The Cap and Bells
--The Valley of the Black Pig
--The Lover asks Forgiveness because of his Many Moods
--He tells of a Valley full of Lovers
--He tells of the Perfect Beauty
--He hears the Cry of the Sedge
--He thinks of Those who have spoken Evil of his Beloved
--The Blessed
--The Secret Rose
--Maid Quiet
--The Travail of Passion
--The Lover pleads with his Friend for Old Friends
--The Lover speaks to the Hearers of his Songs in Coming Days
--The Poet pleads with the Elemental Powers
--He wishes his Beloved were Dead
--He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
--He thinks of his Past Greatness when a Part of the Constellations of Heaven
--The Fiddler of Dooney

In The Seven Woods (1904)
--In the Seven Woods
--The Arrow
--The Folly of being Comforted
--Old Memory
--Never give all the Heart
--The Withering of the Boughs
--Adam's Curse
--Red Hanrahan's Song about Ireland
--The Old Men admiring Themselves in the Water
--Under the Moon
--The Ragged Wood
--O do not Love Too Long
--The Players ask for a Blessing on the Psalteries and on Themselves
--The Happy Townland

from The Green Helmet and other poems (1912)
--His Dream
--A Woman Homer sung
--No Second Troy
--King and no King
--Against Unworthy Praise
--The Fascination of What's Difficult
--A Drinking Song
--The Coming of Wisdom with Time
--On hearing that the Students of our New University have joined the Agitation against Immoral Literature
--To a Poet, who would have me Praise certain Bad Poets, Imitators of His and Mine
--The Mask
--Upon a House shaken by the Land Agitation
--At the Abbey Theatre
--These are the Clouds
--At Galway Races
--A Friend's Illness
--All Things can tempt Me
--Brown Penny

Responsibilities (1914)
--Introductory Rhymes
--The Grey Rock
--To a Wealthy Man who promised a second Subscription to the Dublin Municipal Gallery if it were proved the People wanted Pictures
--September 1913
--To a Friend whose Work has come to Nothing
--To a Shade
--When Helen lived
--On Those that hated 'The Playboy of the Western World', 1907
--The Three Beggars
--The Three Hermits
--Beggar to Beggar cried
--Running to Paradise
--The Hour before Dawn
--A Song from 'The Player Queen'

--The Realists
--I. The Witch
--II. The Peacock

--The Mountain Tomb
--I. To a Child dancing in the Wind
--II. Two Years Later

--A Memory of Youth
--Fallen Majesty

Upon a Dying Lady:
--I. Her Courtesy
--II. Certain Artists bring her Dolls and Drawings
--III. She turns the Dolls' Faces to the Wall
--IV. The End of Day
--V. Her Race
--VI. Her Courage
--VII. Her Friends bring her a Christmas Tree

--The Cold Heaven
--That the Night come
--An Appointment
--The Magi
--The Dolls
--A Coat
--Closing Rhyme

The Wild Swans at Coole (1919)
--The Wild Swans at Coole
--In Memory of Major Robert Gregory
--An Irish Airman foresees His Death
--Men improve with the Years
--The Collar-bone of a Hare
--Under the Round Tower
--Solomon to Sheba
--The Living Beauty
--A Song
--To a Young Beauty
--To a Young Girl
--The Scholars
--Tom O'Roughley
--Shepherd and Goatherd
--Lines written in Dejection
--The Dawn
--On Woman
--The Fisherman
--The Hawk
--Her Praise
--The People
--His Phoenix
--A Thought from Propertius
--Broken Dreams
--A Deep-sworn Vow
--The Balloon of the Mind
--To a Squirrel at Kyle-na-no
--On being asked for a War Poem
--In Memory of Alfred Pollexfen
--Ego Dominus Tuus
--A Prayer on going into My House
--The Phases of the Moon
--The Cat and the Moon
--The Saint and the Hunchback
--Two Songs of a Fool
--Another Song of a Fool
--The Double Vision of Michael Robartes

Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1921)
--Michael Robartes and the Dancer
--Solomon and the Witch
--An Image from a Past Life
--Under Saturn
--Easter 1916
--Sixteen Dead Men
--The Rose Tree
--On a Political Prisoner
--The Leaders of the Crowd
--Towards Break of Day
--Demon and Beast
--The Second Coming
--A Prayer for My Daughter
--A Meditation in Time of War
--To be carved on a Stone at Thoor Ballylee

The Gift of Harun Al-Rashid (1923)
--The Gift of Harun Al-Rashid

The Tower (1928)
--Sailing to Byzantium
--The Tower

Meditations in Time of Civil War:
--I. Ancestral Houses
--II. My House
--III. My Table
--IV. My Descendants
--V. The Road at my Door
--VI. The Stare's Nest by My Window
--VII. I see Phantoms of Hatred and of the Heart's Fullness and of the Coming Emptiness

--Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen
--The Wheel
--Youth and Age
--The New Faces
--A Prayer for My Son
--Two Songs from a Play
--Leda and the Swan
--On a Picture of a Black Centaur by Edmund Dulac
--Among School Children
--Colonus' Praise
--The Hero, the Girl, and the Fool
--Owen Aherne and His Dancers

A Man Young and Old:
--I. First Love
--II. Human Dignity
--III. The Mermaid
--IV. The Death of the Hare
--V. The Empty Cup
--VI. His Memories
--VII. The Friends of His Youth
--VIII. Summer and Spring
--IX. The Secrets of the Old
--X. His Wildness
--XI. From 'Oedipus at Colonus'

--The Three Monuments
--All Souls' Night

The Winding Stair and other poems (1933)
--In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz
--A Dialogue of Self and Soul
--Blood and the Moon
--Oil and Blood
--Veronica's Napkin
--Spilt Milk
--The Nineteenth Century and After
--Three Movements
--The Seven Sages
--The Crazed Moon
--Coole Park, 1929
--Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931
--For Anne Gregory
--Swift's Epitaph
--At Algeciras - a Meditation upon Death
--The Choice
--Mohini Chatterjee
--The Mother of God
--Quarrel in Old Age
--The Results of Thought
--Gratitude to the Unknown Instructors
--Remorse for Intemperate Speech
--Stream and Sun at Glendalough

Words for Music Perhaps
--I. Crazy Jane and the Bishop
--II. Crazy Jane reproved
--III. Crazy Jane on the Day of Judgment
--IV. Crazy Jane and Jack the Journeyman
--V. Crazy Jane on God
--VI. Crazy Jane talks with the Bishop
--VII. Crazy Jane grown Old looks at the Dancers
--VIII. Girl's Song
--IX. Young Man's Song
--X. Her Anxiety
--XI. His Confidence
--XII. Love's Loneliness
--XIII. Her Dream
--XIV. His Bargain
--XV. Three Things
--XVI. Lullaby
--XVII. After Long Silence
--XVIII. Mad as the Mist and Snow
--XIX. Those Dancing Days are gone
--XX. 'I am of Ireland'
--XXI. The Dancer at Cruachan and Cro-Patrick
--XXII. Tom the Lunatic
--XXIII. Tom at Cruachan
--XXIV. Old Tom again
--XXV. The Delphic Oracle upon Plotinus

A Woman Young and Old
--I. Father and Child
--II. Before the World was Made
--III. A First Confession
--IV. Her Triumph
--V. Consolation
--VI. Chosen
--VII. Parting
--VIII. Her Vision in the Wood
--IX. A Last Confession
--X. Meeting
--XI. From the 'Antigone'

'Parnell's Funeral' and other poems (1935)
--Parnell's Funeral
--Three Marching Songs
--Alternative Song for the Severed Head in 'The King of the Great Clock Tower'
--Two Songs Rewritten for the Tune's Sake
--A Prayer for Old Age
--Church and State

Supernatural Songs:
--I. Ribh at the Tomb of Baile and Aillinn
--II. Ribh denounces Patrick
--III. Ribh in Ecstasy
--IV. There
--V. Ribh considers Christian Love insufficient
--VI. He and She
--VII. What Magic Drum?
--VIII. Whence had they come?
--IX. The Four Ages of Man
--X. Conjunctions
--XI. A Needle's Eye
--XII. Meru

New Poems 1938
--The Gyres
--Lapis Lazuli
--Imitated from the Japanese
--Sweet Dancer
--The Three Bushes
--The Lady's First Song
--The Lady's Second Song
--The Lady's Third Song
--The Lover's Song
--The Chambermaid's First Song
--The Chambermaid's Second Song
--An Acre of Grass
--What Then?
--Beautiful Lofty Things
--A Crazed Girl
--To Dorothy Wellesley
--The Curse of Cromwell
--Roger Casement
--The Ghost of Roger Casement
--The O'Rahilly
--Come Gather round Me, Parnellites
--The Wild Old Wicked Man
--The Great Day
--What was Lost
--The Spur
--A Drunken Man's Praise of Sobriety
--The Pilgrim
--Colonel Martin
--A Model for the Laureate
--The Old Stone Cross
--The Spirit Medium
--Those Images
--The Municipal Gallery Revisited
--Are You Content?

Final Poems (1938-39)
--Under Ben Bulben
--Three Songs to the One Burden
--The Black Tower
--Cuchulain Comforted
--In Tara's Halls
--The Statues
--News for the Delphic Oracle
--Long-legged Fly
--A Bronze Head
--A Stick of Incense
--Hound Voice
--John Kinsella's Lament for Mrs Mary Moore
--High Talk
--The Apparitions
--A Nativity
--Why Should Not Old Men be Mad?
--The Statesman's Holiday
--Crazy Jane on the Mountain
--The Man and the Echo
--The Circus Animals' Desertion

Narrative and Dramatic

--The Wanderings of Oisin (1889)

--The Old Age of Queen Maeve (1903)

--Baile and Aillinn (1903)

The Shadowy Waters (1906)
--Introductory Lines
--The Harp of Aengus
--The Shadowy Waters

--The Two Kings (1914)

Index to Titles
Index to First Lines
Profile Image for Rosa Jamali.
Author 26 books110 followers
August 23, 2013
ییتس به فارسی
برگردان : رُزا جمالی

دریا نوردی به سمت بیزانس

اینجا سرزمینی برای مردی پیر نیست
جوانان در کنار هم اند
و پرندگانی در درختان
نسلی رو به مرگ
در آوازهایش
قزل آلایی که به زمین می افتد، دریاهایی از گورماهی ها
گوشتی از ماهی یا ماکیان در تمامِ طول تابستان حکمرانی می کند
آنچه به فرزندی پذیرفته شده است به دنیا می آید و می میرد
تمام آنچه که در آن موسیقی شهوانی نهفته است ، غفلت است
بنایی تاریخی از خردی بی زمان.

مردی پیر که تحفه ای ناچیز است
مگر لباسی ژنده آویخته بر عصایی
روحی ست که دست می زند و آواز می خواند و بلندتر می خواند
بر پارگی های لباس فانی اش
و نه مدرسه ی آوازها که درس هایش
بناهایی با عظمتی منحصر به خویش
و پس من در دریاها رانده ام
و به شهرِ مقدس بیزانس رسیده ام.

مریمی های ایستاده در آتش مقدس خداوند
همچنان که در کاشی طلائیِ رنگ دیوارها
که از آتشِ مقدس می آید در روحی خبیث
وآنها استادان آواز روح من بودند
آنها قلب مرا به تحلیل می برند
و با خواهش ها بیمار می کنند
آنرا به جانوری رو به مرگ می بندند
و او نمی داند که این چیست و مرا احاطه می کند
و به نیرنگ ابدیت می برد.

زمانی بیرون از طبیعت
من هیچوقت شکل جسمانی ام را از طبیعت نخواهم گرفت
اما این شکلی ست که طلاسازان یونانی
از کوبیدنِ طلا و لعابِ آن می سازند
که این امپراطورِ خواب آلوده را بیدار نگه دارند
به رویِ شاخه ی طلایی بگذارند که آواز بخواند
به زنان و مردان بیزانس
که چه گذشته است، در حالِ گذار است و یا خواهد آمد.

صورتک هایی جدید

اگر شما که پیر شده اید اولینِ مردگان بودید
نه درخت کاتالپا ونه زیزفون معطر
اگرپاهای زنده ام را بشنوند یا قدم هایم را
جائیکه پرداخته ایم و دندانهای زمان را خرد خواهیم کرد
بگذار صورتک های جدید با ترفندهایی که خواهند داشت بازی کنند
در اتاق هایی کهنه، شب می تواند بر روز پیشی بگیرد
سایه هامان در پرسه ای شن های باغ را سست می کند
این زیستن سایه وار تن ازآنهاست.


زمانی که زمستان است بهار را فرا می خوانیم
و در تمام طول بهار تابستان را می خوانیم
انبوه حلقه های پرچین
اعتراف می کنند که زمستان بهترین است
همه چیز خوب نیست
چرا که بهار نیامده است
کسی نمی داند که چه خون ما را می آزارد
که چیزی جز آرزوی گور نیست.

لیدا و قو

ضربه ای به ناگهان
بالهای بزرگ چه به هم می کوبند
بر فرازِ سر لیدا که یله می رود
قو ساق هایش را می نوازد
با شبکه هایی تاریک
پسِ گردنِ لیدا گرفتار در منقار قوست.
قو سینه ی بی پناه او را بر سینه اش می فشارد
ساق های مست و ولنگارش
چه طور آن انگشت های مبهم ترسان
شکوهِ بال و پرش را در خود می فشارد؟
در آن هجومِ سفید رنگ
چه طور
آن قلب عجیب
جائیکه قرار می گیرد می تپد؟
لرزه ای در کمرگاه آبستن اش کرده
دیواری شکسته،
سقفی و برجی سوزان
و آگاممنون مرده است
اینچنین پیچیده در هم
مقهور در خونِ سنگدل هوا،
چه طور کوهِ دانایی اش قو را پس زد؟
درست قبل از اینکه قو به زمین بیندازدش...


تصویر ناگزیر روز کنار کشیده است
سربازان مستِ امپراطور خواب اند
ضرباهنگ شب کنار می کشد
پیادگان شب آواز سر دادند
و بعد از ناقوس مقدس کلیسا
چه کوچک است گنبدی که از ستارگان و ماه روشن است
و تمام آن آدمی ست
تمام آن پیچیدگی های محض
خشم و باتلاقِ رگ های آدمی ست.

پیش از من تصویری شناور بود؛ آدمی بود یا سایه؟
سایه ای بیش از آدمی ، تصویری فراتر از سایه
ماسوره ای بر زمین که در لباس های مومیایی گرفتار است
ممکن است آن گذرگاه پیچاپیچ را باز کنید؟
دهانی که در آن رطوبتی نیست، دم و بازدمی نیست
دهانی که بی آه تو را می خواند
که من آنرا زندگی در مرگ ومرگ در زندگی نامیده ام.

معجزه ای،پرنده ای یا ساخته ی دستی از طلا
معجزه تر از آن پرنده ی مصنوع
که کاشته اندش آنجا
بر شاخه ی طلایی که از ستاره ها روشن است
و او می تواند پرندگانِ نر بیشه ی هید را دوست بدارد
تا اینکه ماه بر او بتابد
بی چیز بشماردش
فلزی که بی هیچ تغییری می تابد
پرنده ای
یا گلبرگی
و تمام پیچیدگی های آن خون یا باتلاق.

نیمه شب ، پرنده ها از سنگفرشِ امپراطور پر می گیرند
شعله ایست که هیزمی آن را تشکیل نداده است
آتشی ست که هیچ فلزی آنرا روشن نکرده است
و طوفانی خاموشش نخواهد کرد
زبانه ای که از زبانه های دیگر برآمده است
ودشواری خشم از آنجا رخت بر می بندد
به مرگی رسیده است در این رقص
در رنجی که رو به خواب است
و در شعله ای که نمی تواند آستینی را بسوزاند.

با پاهایی نیم گشوده ، بر دلفینی از باتلاق و خون
ارواح یکی پس از دیگری خوانده می شوند
آهنگری ست که این سیلاب را می شکافد؛
طلاکارانِ امپراطور
تالارهایی رقصنده از مرمرها
این خشمِ تلخ را که دشوارست می شکافد
تصویرها از تصویرهایی دیگر می زایند
دلفینی تکه پاره
این زنگ ها برای دریا شکنجه ایست.

تروایی دیگر نیست

چرا باید سرزنش اش کنم که روزهایم را پر کرده است
با درماندگی یا آنچه این روزها می کند
به مردانی چشم بسته خشونت را می آموزد
یا خیابان های کوچک را به شکلی بی نظیر جمع می کند
جرات عاشق شدن دارند؟
چه جور می تواند آسوده باشد؟
در بزرگی به سادگی آتش است
شبیه پاپیونی سفت
طبیعی ست در این سن
که سر زنده و تنها و خشمگین باشی؛
چرا ؛ مگر چه کار می توانست بکند با آنچه که هست؟
تروای دیگری نبود که بسوزاندش؟

آمدنی دوباره

می چرخد و می چرخد در اشباحی که بزرگ می شوند
قوشی که قوش بازش را نمی شناسد
چیزها مسلسل از هم جدا می شوند ؛ مرکزی که ایستا نیست
آشوبی که در جهان بر پاست
تاریکی خونی که گشاد می شود و همه جاهست
آئین بی گناهی غرق می شود
مجرمی نیست که پست ترین آنها به شدت شهوانی ست.

حتما ظهوری اتفاق خواهد افتاد
و حتما آمدنی دوباره خواهد بود این
آمدنی دوباره ! چه سخت است که کلمات به کاغذ در می آیند
زمانی که تصویری پهناور از روح است
چشمانم را تاریک می کند؛ جائی میان شن زار
جسمی با بدن یک شیر و سر آدمی
نگاهی خالی و بی هیچ دلسوزی شبیه خورشید
ران های سست اش را به حرکت وا می دارد
چرخش سایه وار پرندگان صحرایی.
تاریکی قطره قطره می چکد
اما حالا می دانم که خواب سنگی قرن بیستم
و گهواره ای که تکانش می داد کابوسی آزار دهنده بود
وچه جانور خشنی ست؛ ساعتش رسیده
و می لمد به سمت بیت الحم که زائیده شود؟

جواني و عمر

كه چه بسيار در جواني خشم گرفتم
پريشان و ستم ديده از دنيا
كه حالا با زباني متملق و غلط انداز
به خداحافظيِ مهماني كه تركش مي گويد سرعت مي بخشد.

سه بناي يادبود

مجامعِ عمومي شان را در جائي برگزار كردند
كه برجسته ترين ميهن پرستانمان ايستادند
كسي در ميان پرندگان هوا
كوتاهتر بر هر دستي ؛
و تمامِ آن سياستمداران مردمي مي گويند
اصالتي اين سرزمين را بنا كرد
و آنرا از انحطاط باز داشت
پندمان دادند كه به آن بياويزيم
بگذار آنهمه آرزويِ نخست باقي بماند
كه درك آن مارا سر بلند خواهد ساخت
غروري كه در آلودگي مي آيد:
آن سه رذل بلند مي خندند .

Profile Image for Allie.
138 reviews132 followers
January 2, 2021
Every night before falling asleep, I have been reading this wonderful compilation of Yeats' poems. In part, this has been an effort to distract myself from endlessly scrolling through dismal news sites and the cacophony of social media: to give my tired mind another focus. But I found these poems were not just a distraction, but also a joy. This is definitely a collection that I will return to again; there is always something new to discover in Yeats' poems.

Yeats was incredibly prolific and this book includes hundreds of poems, from his early romantic years in the twilight of the Victorian era to his more modern poems in the first few decades of the 20th century. However, many of the same themes reoccur: unrequited love; the struggle for Irish nationalism; the process of aging; and heroic myths inspired by Greek and Irish folklore. There is a strong sense of melancholy throughout many of his works that resonated strongly with me, although more cheerful readers may not feel the same.

One of the most incredible things about Yeats is his ability to convey emotion, meaning, and imagery within a formal poetic structure. Even at his most modern, Yeats uses rhyming, punctuation, and a measured cadence that many recent poets seem to have abandoned. I enjoy e.e. cummings and the other iconoclasts, but Yeats' mastery of the English language is so great that he doesn't need to abandon form to achieve his goals, both form and function are perfectly intertwined. Like Canova or other classical sculptors who created exquisite images in marble, there is an incredible purity and clarity to Yeats.

With such a large collection, some poems had less of an impact on me than others. In part, I think this is because some of Yeats' classical references were unfamiliar to me. In others, the subject was less meaningful to me personally. But there were so many incredible poems. If I had to pick just one favorite, I think it would be The Wild Swans at Coole. I could spend all day listening to someone dear to me reading that poem. Here is just an excerpt:

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

Reading that makes my heart happy.
Profile Image for —.
89 reviews71 followers
June 2, 2020
I tend to feel that Yeats gets a lot of well-warranted praise for the lyrical heights of his best work, but being fully honest in a setting where they're all grouped together, it's harder to distinguish the greater poems from the simply appreciable ones. But the best stuff makes me want to stop writing poetry altogether because it's so good, so what do I know haha.
Profile Image for saïd.
6,316 reviews959 followers
July 23, 2023
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


The world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
February 19, 2010
I like Yeats, I think. Mostly because he likes Irish mythology and writes lots of poems about it - a basic knowledge of Irish myths is helpful, but not totally necessary.

One of my favorites, for sheer Icky But Awesome Factor, is Leda and the Swan. My class spent nearly an hour discussing it and I almost understand it.


A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?"

Read for: Modern Poetry
Profile Image for Andrew.
2,024 reviews727 followers
December 17, 2019
I wasn't sure how I felt about Yeats, so I went through and can more or less confirm that he wrote some good poems later in his career -- even a few very good poems -- but that the bulk of his work, particularly the early stuff more rooted in Irish folklore and the ethos of the pre-Raphaelites, felt just a little bit too Lord of the Rings-meets-Michael Flatley for me to actually like. Maybe it's because I'm not Irish, maybe it's my being firmly here and now in the 21st Century, but I have to conclude that by and large, Yeats ain't for me.
Profile Image for Nick Black.
Author 1 book735 followers
March 23, 2008
When you hear a slouch
In your neighborhood
What troubles your sight?
(I ain't afraid of no rough beasts!)
Profile Image for Douglas Wilson.
Author 300 books3,653 followers
December 22, 2014
Frequently did not know what was going on, but enjoyed many wonderful phrases and images. An endless wood, full of Celtic twilight.
446 reviews1 follower
February 17, 2013
Some beautiful poems on life, aging and love. Some of my favorites:

- The sad shepherd
- Ephemera
- Down by the salley gardens
- The white birds
- He wishes for the cloths of heaven
- Beggar to beggar cried
- To a child dancing in the wind
- Shepherd and goatherd
- A prayer for my daughter
- Meditations in time of civil war
- Words for music perhaps - XV Three things

Two poems I will quote:

He wishes for the cloths of heaven

Had I the heaves' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
Bu I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

To a child dancing in the wind

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 the wind?
Profile Image for Margo Montes.
39 reviews2 followers
June 2, 2021
Yeats makes me feel like I'm a child again, curled up by the fire listening to my mum singing his poems to us. I think they were written to be recited or sung - they are rhythmical and folkloric, filled with excitement and magic and mysticism.

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded in the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hilly lands and hollow lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 487 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.