Collected Poems, by William Butler Yeats

Broken Dreams

THERE is grey in your hair.

Young men no longer suddenly catch their breath

When you are passing;

But maybe some old gaffer mutters a blessing

Because it was your prayer

Recovered him upon the bed of death.

For your sole sake — that all heart’s ache have known,

And given to others all heart’s ache,

From meagre girlhood’s putting on

Burdensome beauty — for your sole sake

Heaven has put away the stroke of her doom,

So great her portion in that peace you make

By merely walking in a room.

Your beauty can but leave among us

Vague memories, nothing but memories.

A young man when the old men are done talking

Will say to an old man, “Tell me of that lady

The poet stubborn with his passion sang us

When age might well have chilled his blood.”

Vague memories, nothing but memories,

But in the grave all, all, shall be renewed.

The certainty that I shall see that lady

Leaning or standing or walking

In the first loveliness of womanhood,

And with the fervour of my youthful eyes,

Has set me muttering like a fool.

You are more beautiful than any one,

And yet your body had a flaw:

Your small hands were not beautiful,

And I am afraid that you will run

And paddle to the wrist

In that mysterious, always brimming lake

Where those What have obeyed the holy law

paddle and are perfect. Leave unchanged

The hands that I have kissed,

For old sake’s sake.

The last stroke of midnight dies.

All day in the one chair

From dream to dream and rhyme to rhyme I have ranged

In rambling talk with an image of air:

Vague memories, nothing but memories.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/y/yeats/william_butler/y4c/part61.html

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