THE FISHERMAN, by William Butler Yeats > Although I can see him still, the freckled man who goes to a gray place on a hill, in gray Connemara clothes, at dawn to cast his flies. It’s long since I began to call up to the eyes, this wise and simple man. All day I’d looked in the face what I had hoped it would be, to write for my own race and the reality. The living men that I hate, the dead man that I loved, the craven man in his seat, the insolent unreproved, and no knave brought to book who has won a drunken cheer. The witty man and his joke aimed at the commonest ear, the clever man who cries, the catch cries of the clown, the beating down of the wise and great Art beaten down. Maybe a twelve-month since suddenly I began, in scorn of this audience, imagining a man, and his sun-freckled face, and gray Connemara cloth climbing up to a place where stone is dark with froth, and the down turn of his wrist, when the flies drop in the stream. A man who does not exist, a man who is but a dream. And cried, “Before I am old I shall have written him one Poem, maybe as cold and passionate as the dawn.”
HE WISHES FOR THE CLOTHS OF HEAVEN, by William Butler Yeats > 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.
THE WILD SWANS AT COOLE, by William Butler Yeats > The trees are in their autumn beauty, the woodland paths are dry, under the October twilight the water mirrors a still sky. Upon the brimming water among the stones, are nine-and-fifty swans. The nineteenth autumn has come upon me, since I first made my count. I saw, before I had well finished, all suddenly mount, and scatter wheeling in great broken rings, upon their clamorous wings. I have looked upon those brilliant creatures, and now my heart is sore. All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight, the first time on this shore, the bell-beat of their wings above my head, trod with a lighter tread. Unwearied still, lover by lover, they paddle in the cold, companionable streams or climb the air. Their hearts have not grown old. Passion or conquest, wander where they will, attend upon them still. But now they drift on the still water, mysterious, beautiful. Among what rushes will they build, by what lake’s edge or pool, delight men’s eyes when I awake some day, to find they have flown away?