W. B. Yeats: Selected Poems

Edited by Timothy Webb
W. B. Yeats: Selected Poems
(Penguin Books, 1991 / 2000)

Every cottage toilet should have W. B. Yeats: Selected Poems (Penguin, or any other selection of his poems).

The Curse of Cromwell

You ask what I have found, and far and wide I go:
Nothing but Cromwell’s house and Cromwell’s
     murderous crew,
The lovers and the dancers are beaten into the clay,
And the tall men and the swordsmen and the
     horsemen, where are they?
And there is an old beggar wandering in his pride,
His fathers served their fathers before Christ was
                              O what of that, O what of that,
                                       What is there left to say?

All neighbourly content and easy talk are gone,
But there’s no good complaining, for money’s rant
     is on.
He that’s mounting up must on his neighbour
And we all the Muses are things of no account.
They have schooling of their own, but I pass their
     schooling by,
What can they know that we know that know the
     time to die?
                              O what of that, O what of that,
                                       What is there left to say?


Parnell came down the road, he said to a cheering
‘Ireland shall get her freedom and you still break

Under Ben Bulben

Irish poets, learn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made,
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.
Sing the peasantry, and then
Hard-riding country gentlemen,
The holiness of monks, and after
Porter-drinkers’ randy laughter;
Sing the lords and ladies gay
That were beaten into the clay
Through seven heroic centuries;
Cast your mind on other days
That we in coming days may be
Still the indomitable Irishry.

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