Friday, May 18, 2012

Three by W.B. Yeats

 

The Cloak the Boat and the Shoes

 'What do you make so fair and bright?'

'I make the cloak of Sorrow:
O lovely to see in all men's sight
Shall be the cloak of Sorrow,

In all men's sight.'

'What do you build with sails for flight?'

'I build a boat for Sorrow:
O swift on the seas all day and night
Saileth the rover Sorrow,
All day and night.'

'What do you weave with wool so white?'

'I weave the shoes of Sorrow:
Soundless shall be the footfall light
In all men's ears of Sorrow,
Sudden and light.'


A Poet to his Beloved

I bring you with reverent hands
The books of my numberless dreams,
White woman that passion has worn
As the tide wears the dove-grey sands,
And with heart more old than the horn
That is brimmed from the pale fire of time:
White woman with numberless dreams,
I bring you my passionate rhyme. 


He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


Yeats is one of my earliest poetic "loves"; I have been reading him again lately and rediscovering poems I have long enjoyed and others I have read before but that have become more meaningful as time passes.  If you haven't read Yeats, you should; he is rich in everything that makes poetry amazing. His range always amazes me--everything from sorrow to joy, strength to weakness, love to anger, silence to sound--his poetic realm seems to me to have wide bounds like a wood in a dream that you begin to walk through, thinking it a mere border but then finding it to be a forest that you will not be able to walk through in a day, a week, or a month--perhaps not in a lifetime.

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