William Butler Yeats

1865 - 1939

A Quote by William Butler Yeats on change, gold, life, slavery, and sorrow

I see my life go drifting like a river From change to change; I have been many things -  A green drop in the surge, a gleam of light Upon a sword, a fir tree on a hill,  An old slave grinding at a heavy quern, A king sitting upon a chair of gold -  And all these things were wonderful and great; But now I have grown nothing, knowing all. Ah! Druid, Druid, how great webs of sorrow Lay hidden in that small slate-coloured thing!

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Source: "Fergus and the Druid"

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William Butler Yeats on songs and world

I made my song a coat Covered with embroideries Out of old mythologies From heel to throat But the fools caught it, Wore it in the world's eyes As though they'd wrought it. Song, let them take it, For there's more enterprise In walking naked.

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Source: Responsibilities. A Coat

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William Butler Yeats on love

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Players and painted stage took all my love, And not those things that they were emblems of.

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Source: Last Poems,1936–1939, The Circus Animal’s Desertion, II, st. 3

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William Butler Yeats on limits, poetry, and poets

If a poet interprets a poem of his own he limits its suggestibility.

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Source: The Letters of W. B. Yeats

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William Butler Yeats on argument, catholicism, church, past, and world

Mysticism has been in the past and probably ever will be one of the great powers of the world, and it is bad scholarship to pretend the contrary. You may argue against it but you should no more treat it with disrespect than a perfectly cultivated writer would treat (say) the Catholic Church or the Church of Luther no matter how much he disliked them.

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Source: Letter to author Laurence Housman (10 October 1893)

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William Butler Yeats on children, understanding, and world

Come away, O human child!  To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand,  For the world's more full of weeping Than you can understand.

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Source: "The Stolen Child"

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William Butler Yeats on day, heart, and water

I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;  While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,  I hear it in the deep heart's core.

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Source: The Lake Isle of Innisfree

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William Butler Yeats on brevity, certainty, dreams, heart, kindness, kiss, love, passion, thinking, women, and worth

Never give all the heart, for love Will hardly seem worth thinking of To passionate women if it seem Certain, and they never dream That it fades out from kiss to kiss For everything that's lovely is But a brief, dreamy kind delight.

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Source: the Seven Woods, 1904. Never Give All the Heart

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William Butler Yeats on day, life, and writers

Never to have lived is best, ancient writers say. Never to have drawn the breath of life, never to have looked into the eye of day; The second best's a gay goodnight and quickly turn away.

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Source: "Oedipus at Colonus,

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by William Butler Yeats on fighting, philosophy, planning, and world

The night can sweat with terror as before We pieced our thoughts into philosophy, And planned to bring the world under a rule, Who are but weasels fighting in a hole.

William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

Source: The Tower, 1928. Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen

Contributed by: Zaady

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