Collected Poems, by William Butler Yeats

The Man and the Echo


IN a cleft that’s christened Alt

Under broken stone I halt

At the bottom of a pit

That broad noon has never lit,

And shout a secret to the stone.

All that I have said and done,

Now that I am old and ill,

Turns into a question till

I lie awake night after night

And never get the answers right.

Did that play of mine send out

Certain men the English shot?

Did words of mine put too great strain

On that woman’s reeling brain?

Could my spoken words have checked

That whereby a house lay wrecked?

And all seems evil until I

Sleepless would lie down and die.


Lie down and die.


That were to shirk

The spiritual intellect’s great work,

And shirk it in vain. There is no release

In a bodkin or disease,

Nor can there be work so great

As that which cleans man’s dirty slate.

While man can still his body keep

Wine or love drug him to sleep,

Waking he thanks the Lord that he

Has body and its stupidity,

But body gone he sleeps no more,

And till his intellect grows sure

That all’s arranged in one clear view,

pursues the thoughts that I pursue,

Then stands in judgment on his soul,

And, all work done, dismisses all

Out of intellect and sight

And sinks at last into the night.


Into the night.


O Rocky Voice,

Shall we in that great night rejoice?

What do we know but that we face

One another in this place?

But hush, for I have lost the theme,

Its joy or night-seem but a dream;

Up there some hawk or owl has struck,

Dropping out of sky or rock,

A stricken rabbit is crying out,

And its cry distracts my thought.

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