Collected Poems, by William Butler Yeats

From The Wind Among the Reeds (1899)

The Host of the Air

O’DRISCOLL drove with a song

The wild duck and the drake

From the tall and the tufted reeds

Of the drear Hart Lake.

And he saw how the reeds grew dark

At the coming of night-tide,

And dreamed of the long dim hair

Of Bridget his bride.

He heard while he sang and dreamed

A piper piping away,

And never was piping so sad,

And never was piping so gay.

And he saw young men and young girls

Who danced on a level place,

And Bridget his bride among them,

With a sad and a gay face.

The dancers crowded about him

And many a sweet thing said,

And a young man brought him red wine

And a young girl white bread.

But Bridget drew him by the sleeve

Away from the merry bands,

To old men playing at cards

With a twinkling of ancient hands.

The bread and the wine had a doom,

For these were the host of the air;

He sat and played in a dream

Of her long dim hair.

He played with the merry old men

And thought not of evil chance,

Until one bore Bridget his bride

Away from the merry dance.

He bore her away in his arms,

The handsomest young man there,

And his neck and his breast and his arms

Were drowned in her long dim hair.

O’Driscoll scattered the cards

And out of his dream awoke:

Old men and young men and young girls

Were gone like a drifting smoke;

But he heard high up in the air

A piper piping away,

And never was piping so sad,

And never was piping so gay.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/y/yeats/william_butler/y4c/part18.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 14:50