Collected Poems, by William Butler Yeats

Solomon and the Witch

AND thus declared that Arab lady:

“Last night, where under the wild moon

On grassy mattress I had laid me,

Within my arms great Solomon,

I suddenly cried out in a strange tongue

Not his, not mine.”

Who understood

Whatever has been said, sighed, sung,

Howled, miau-d, barked, brayed, belled, yelled, cried, crowed,

Thereon replied: “A cockerel

Crew from a blossoming apple bough

Three hundred years before the Fall,

And never crew again till now,

And would not now but that he thought,

Chance being at one with Choice at last,

All that the brigand apple brought

And this foul world were dead at last.

He that crowed out eternity

Thought to have crowed it in again.

For though love has a spider’s eye

To find out some appropriate pain —

Aye, though all passion’s in the glance —

For every nerve, and tests a lover

With cruelties of Choice and Chance;

And when at last that murder’s over

Maybe the bride-bed brings despair,

For each an imagined image brings

And finds a real image there;

Yet the world ends when these two things,

Though several, are a single light,

When oil and wick are burned in one;

Therefore a blessed moon last night

Gave Sheba to her Solomon.”

“Yet the world stays.”

“If that be so,

Your cockerel found us in the wrong

Although he thought it. worth a crow.

Maybe an image is too strong

Or maybe is not strong enough.”

“The night has fallen; not a sound

In the forbidden sacred grove

Unless a petal hit the ground,

Nor any human sight within it

But the crushed grass where we have lain!

And the moon is wilder every minute.

O! Solomon! let us try again.”

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