Collected Poems, by William Butler Yeats

The Fisherman

ALTHOUGH I can see him still.

The freckled man who goes

To a grey place on a hill

In grey Connemara clothes

At dawn to cast his flies,

It’s long since I began

To call up to the eyes

This wise and simple man.

All day I’d looked in the face

What I had hoped ’twould be

To write for my own race

And the reality;

The living men that I hate,

The dead man that I loved,

The craven man in his seat,

The insolent unreproved,

And no knave brought to book

Who has won a drunken cheer,

The witty man and his joke

Aimed at the commonest ear,

The clever man who cries

The catch-cries of the clown,

The beating down of the wise

And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelvemonth since

Suddenly I began,

In scorn of this audience,

Imagining a man,

And his sun-freckled face,

And grey Connemara cloth,

Climbing up to a place

Where stone is dark under froth,

And the down-turn of his wrist

When the flies drop in the stream;

A man who does not exist,

A man who is but a dream;

And cried, “Before I am old

I shall have written him one

poem maybe as cold

And passionate as the dawn.”

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