A Deep-Sworn Vow

- 1865-1939

Others because you did not keep
That deep-sworn vow have been friends of mine;
Yet always when I look death in the face,
When I clamber to the heights of sleep,
Or when I grow excited with wine,
Suddenly I meet your face.

More by W. B. Yeats

The Young Man's Song

I whispered, "I am too young,"  
And then, "I am old enough";   
Wherefore I threw a penny   
To find out if I might love.   
"Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair,"   
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,   
I am looped in the loops of her hair.   
   
Oh, love is the crooked thing,   
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,   
For he would be thinking of love   
Till the stars had run away,   
And the shadows eaten the moon.   
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon. 

The Sorrow of Love

The quarrel of the sparrows in the eaves, 
The full round moon and the star-laden sky, 
And the loud song of the ever-singing leaves, 
Had hid away earth's old and weary cry. 
  
And then you came with those red mournful lips, 
And with you came the whole of the world's tears, 
And all the sorrows of her labouring ships, 
And all the burden of her myriad years. 
  
And now the sparrows warring in the eaves, 
The curd-pale moon, the white stars in the sky, 
And the loud chaunting of the unquiet leaves 
Are shaken with earth's old and weary cry. 

The Player Queen

(Song from an Unfinished Play)


My mother dandled me and sang,   
'How young it is, how young!'   
And made a golden cradle   
That on a willow swung.   
   
'He went away,' my mother sang,
'When I was brought to bed,'   
And all the while her needle pulled   
The gold and silver thread.   
   
She pulled the thread and bit the thread   
And made a golden gown,
And wept because she had dreamt that I   
Was born to wear a crown.   
   
'When she was got,' my mother sang,   
'I heard a sea-mew cry,   
And saw a flake of the yellow foam 
That dropped upon my thigh.'   
   
How therefore could she help but braid   
The gold into my hair,   
And dream that I should carry   
The golden top of care?

Related Poems

Whispers of Immortality

Webster was much possessed by death	
And saw the skull beneath the skin;	
And breastless creatures under ground	
Leaned backward with a lipless grin.	
 
Daffodil bulbs instead of balls
Stared from the sockets of the eyes!	
He knew that thought clings round dead limbs	
Tightening its lusts and luxuries.	
 
Donne, I suppose, was such another	
Who found no substitute for sense;
To seize and clutch and penetrate,	
Expert beyond experience,	
 
He knew the anguish of the marrow	
The ague of the skeleton;	
No contact possible to flesh
Allayed the fever of the bone.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

Grishkin is nice: her Russian eye	
Is underlined for emphasis;	
Uncorseted, her friendly bust	
Gives promise of pneumatic bliss.
 
The couched Brazilian jaguar	
Compels the scampering marmoset	
With subtle effluence of cat;	
Grishkin has a maisonette;	
 
The sleek Brazilian jaguar
Does not in its arboreal gloom	
Distil so rank a feline smell	
As Grishkin in a drawing-room.	
 
And even the Abstract Entities	
Circumambulate her charm;
But our lot crawls between dry ribs	
To keep our metaphysics warm.