Sample text for Selected poems and four plays of William Butler Yeats / edited and with a new foreword and revised introduction and notes by M.L. Rosenthal.


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Chapter 1

from Crossways

(1889)

THE CLOAK, THE BOAT, AND THE SHOES

'What do you make so fair and bright?'

'I make the cloak of Sorrow:

O lovely to see in all men's sight

Shall be the cloak of Sorrow,

In all men's sight.'

'What do you build with sails for flight?'

'I build a boat for Sorrow:

O swift on the seas all day and night

Saileth the rover Sorrow,

All day and night.'

'What do you weave with wool so white?'

'I weave the shoes of Sorrow:

Soundless shall be the footfall light

In all men's ears of Sorrow,

Sudden and light.'

(1885)

EPHEMERA

'Your eyes that once were never weary of mine

Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,

Because our love is waning.'

And then she: 'Although our love is waning, let us stand

By the lone border of the lake once more,

Together in that hour of gentleness

When the poor tired child, Passion, falls asleep:

How far away the stars seem, and how far

Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!'

Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,

While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:

'Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.'

The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves

Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once

A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;

Autumn was over him: and now they stood

On the lone border of the lake once more:

Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves

Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,

In bosom and hair.

'Ah, do not mourn,' he said,

'That we are tired, for other loves await us;

Hate on and love through unrepining hours.

Before us lies eternity; our souls

Are love, and a continual farewell.'

(1889)

THE STOLEN CHILD

Where dips the rocky highland

Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,

There lies a leafy island

Where flapping herons wake

The drowsy water-rats;

There we've hid our faery vats,

Full of berries

And of reddest stolen cherries.

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.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses

The dim grey sands with light,

Far off by furthest Rosses

We foot it all the night,

Weaving olden dances,

Mingling hands and mingling glances

Till the moon has taken flight;

To and fro we leap

And chase the frothy bubbles,

While the world is full of troubles

And is anxious in its sleep.

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.

Where the wandering water gushes

From the hills above Glen-Car,

In pools among the rushes

That scarce could bathe a star,

We seek for slumbering trout

And whispering in their ears

Give them unquiet dreams;

Leaning softly out

From ferns that drop their tears

Over the young streams.

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.

Away with us he's going,

The solemn-eyed:

He'll hear no more the lowing

Of the calves on the warm hillside

Or the kettle on the hob

Sing peace into his breast,

Or see the brown mice bob

Round and round the oatmeal-chest.

For he comes, the human child,

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

From a world more full of weeping than he can

understand.

(1886)

TO AN ISLE IN THE WATER

Shy one, shy one,

Shy one of my heart,

She moves in the firelight

Pensively apart.

She carries in the dishes,

And lays them in a row.

To an isle in the water

With her would I go.

She carries in the candles,

And lights the curtained room,

Shy in the doorway

And shy in the gloom;

And shy as a rabbit,

Helpful and shy.

To an isle in the water

With her would I fly.

(1889)

DOWN BY THE SALLEY GARDENS

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;

She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.

She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;

But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,

And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.

She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;

But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

(1889)

Foreword and introduction copyright © 1996 by M. L. Rosenthal




Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Ireland -- Literary collections.