Byzantium

Original Text: 

Yeats, William Butler. W. B. Yeats: Selected Poetry: 153-154. Ed. by A. Norman Jeffares. London: Macmillan, 1968.

1The unpurged images of day recede;
2The Emperor's drunken soldiery are abed;
3Night resonance recedes, night walkers' song
4After great cathedral gong;
5A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
6All that man is,
7All mere complexities,
8The fury and the mire of human veins.
9Before me floats an image, man or shade,
10Shade more than man, more image than a shade;
11For Hades' bobbin bound in mummy-cloth
12May unwind the winding path;
13A mouth that has no moisture and no breath
14Breathless mouths may summon;
15I hail the superhuman;
16I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.
17Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,
18More miracle than bird or handiwork,
19Planted on the star-lit golden bough,
20Can like the cocks of Hades crow,
21Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud
22In glory of changeless metal
23Common bird or petal
24And all complexities of mire or blood.
25At midnight on the Emperor's pavement flit
26Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,
27Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,
28Where blood-begotten spirits come
29And all complexities of fury leave,
30Dying into a dance,
31An agony of trance,
32An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.
33Astraddle on the dolphin's mire and blood,
34Spirit after Spirit! The smithies break the flood.
35The golden smithies of the Emperor!
36Marbles of the dancing floor
37Break bitter furies of complexity,
38Those images that yet
39Fresh images beget,
40That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.
Publication Start Year: 
1933
Publication Notes: 

The Winding Star and Other Poems, 1933

RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh
RPO Edition: 
2009
Rhyme: 
Form: