A Deep-Sworn Vow

W. B. Yeats - 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

Leda and the Swan

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                    Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, 
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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.