Collected Poems, by William Butler Yeats

Colonel Martin

THE Colonel went out sailing,

He spoke with Turk and Jew,

With Christian and with Infidel,

For all tongues he knew.

“O what’s a wifeless man?” said he,

And he came sailing home.

He rose the latch and went upstairs

And found an empty room.

The Colonel went out sailing.

“I kept her much in the country

And she was much alone,

And though she may be there,” he said,

“She may be in the town.

She may be all alone there,

For who can say?” he said.

“I think that I shall find her

In a young man’s bed.”

The Colonel went out sailing.

The Colonel met a pedlar,

Agreed their clothes to swop,

And bought the grandest jewelry

In a Galway shop,

Instead of thread and needle

put jewelry in the pack,

Bound a thong about his hand,

Hitched it on his back.

The Colonel went out sailing.

The Colonel knocked on the rich man’s door,

“I am sorry,” said the maid,

“My mistress cannot see these things,

But she is still abed,

And never have I looked upon

Jewelry so grand.”

“Take all to your mistress,”

And he laid them on her hand.

The Colonel went out sailing.

And he went in and she went on

And both climbed up the stair,

And O he was a clever man,

For he his slippers wore.

And when they came to the top stair

He ran on ahead,

His wife he found and the rich man

In the comfort of a bed.

The Colonel went out sailing.

The Judge at the Assize Court,

When he heard that story told,

Awarded him for damages

Three kegs of gold.

The Colonel said to Tom his man,

“Harness an ass and cart,

Carry the gold about the town,

Throw it in every part.”

The Colonel went out sailing.

And there at all street-corners

A man with a pistol stood,

And the rich man had paid them well

To shoot the Colonel dead;

But they threw down their pistols

And all men heard them swear

That they could never shoot a man

Did all that for the poor.

The Colonel went out sailing.

“And did you keep no gold, Tom?

You had three kegs,” said he.

“I never thought of that, Sir.”

“Then want before you die.”

And want he did; for my own grand-dad

Saw the story’s end,

And Tom make out a living

From the seaweed on the strand.

The Colonel went out sailing.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:02