I
 
My Soul. I summon to the winding ancient stair;
  Set all your mind upon the steep ascent,
  Upon the broken, crumbling battlement,
  Upon the breathless starlit air,
  Upon the star that marks the hidden pole;
  Fix every wandering thought upon
  That quarter where all thought is done:
  Who can distinguish darkness from the soul?
 
My Self. The consecrated blade upon my knees
  Is Sato's ancient blade, still as it was,
  Still razor-keen, still like a looking-glass
  Unspotted by the centuries;
  That flowering, silken, old embroidery, torn
  From some court-lady's dress and round
  The wooden scabbard bound and wound,
  Can, tattered, still protect, faded adorn.
 
My Soul. Why should the imagination of a man
  Long past his prime remember things that are
  Emblematical of love and war?
  Think of ancestral night that can,
  If but imagination scorn the earth
  And intellect its wandering
  To this and that and t'other thing,
  Deliver from the crime of death and birth.
 
My Self. Montashigi, third of his family, fashioned it
  Five hundred years ago, about it lie
  Flowers from I know not what embroidery—
  Heart's purple—and all these I set
  For emblems of the day against the tower
  Emblematical of the night,
  And claim as by a soldier's right
  A charter to commit the crime once more.
 
My Soul. Such fullness in that quarter overflows
  And falls into the basin of the mind
  That man is stricken deaf and dumb and blind,
  For intellect no longer knows
  Is from the Ought, or Knower from the Known—
  That is to say, ascends to Heaven;
  Only the dead can be forgiven;
  But when I think of that my tongue's a stone.
 
 
II
 
My Self. A living man is blind and drinks his drop.
What matter if the ditches are impure?
What matter if I live it all once more?
Endure that toil of growing up;
The ignominy of boyhood; the distress
Of boyhood changing into man;
The unfinished man and his pain
Brought face to face with his own clumsiness;
 
The finished man among his enemies?—
How in the name of Heaven can he escape
That defiling and disfigured shape
The mirror of malicious eyes
Casts upon his eyes until at last
He thinks that shape must be his shape?
And what's the good of an escape
If honour find him in the wintry blast?
 
I am content to live it all again
And yet again, if it be life to pitch
Into the frog-spawn of a blind man's ditch,
A blind man battering blind men;
Or into that most fecund ditch of all,
The folly that man does
Or must suffer, if he woos
A proud woman not kindred of his soul.
 
I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.

  • 0
  • 0
  •  
  •  
Login to comment...
Email

Other works by W. B. Yeats...

Some poets who follow W. B. Yeats...

Luis Calanda Nancy Niddam Sequerra Gonzalo Lex Susan K. CROSHAW Prakash Mackay