Collected Poems, by William Butler Yeats

Demon and Beast

FOR certain minutes at the least

That crafty demon and that loud beast

That plague me day and night

Ran out of my sight;

Though I had long perned in the gyre,

Between my hatred and desire.

I saw my freedom won

And all laugh in the sun.

The glittering eyes in a death’s head

Of old Luke Wadding’s portrait said

Welcome, and the Ormondes all

Nodded upon the wall,

And even Strafford smiled as though

It made him happier to know

I understood his plan.

Now that the loud beast ran

There was no portrait in the Gallery

But beckoned to sweet company,

For all men’s thoughts grew clear

Being dear as mine are dear.

But soon a tear-drop started up,

For aimless joy had made me stop

Beside the little lake

To watch a white gull take

A bit of bread thrown up into the air;

Now gyring down and perning there

He splashed where an absurd

Portly green-pated bird

Shook off the water from his back;

Being no more demoniac

A stupid happy creature

Could rouse my whole nature.

Yet I am certain as can be

That every natural victory

Belongs to beast or demon,

That never yet had freeman

Right mastery of natural things,

And that mere growing old, that brings

Chilled blood, this sweetness brought;

Yet have no dearer thought

Than that I may find out a way

To make it linger half a day.

O what a sweetness strayed

Through barren Thebaid,

Or by the Mareotic sea

When that exultant Anthony

And twice a thousand more

Starved upon the shore

And withered to a bag of bones!

What had the Caesars but their thrones?

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