Easter 1916

Original Text: 

Yeats, William Butler. W. B. Yeats: Selected Poetry: 93-95. Ed. by A. Norman Jeffares. London: Macmillan, 1968.

1I have met them at close of day
2Coming with vivid faces
3From counter or desk among grey
4Eighteenth-century houses.
5I have passed with a nod of the head
6Or polite meaningless words,
7Or have lingered awhile and said
8Polite meaningless words,
9And thought before I had done
10Of a mocking tale or a gibe
11To please a companion
12Around the fire at the club,
13Being certain that they and I
14But lived where motley is worn:
15All changed, changed utterly:
16A terrible beauty is born.
17That woman's days were spent
18In ignorant good-will,
19Her nights in argument
20Until her voice grew shrill.
21What voice more sweet than hers
22When, young and beautiful,
23She rode to harriers?
24This man had kept a school
25And rode our wingèd horse;
26This other his helper and friend
27Was coming into his force;
28He might have won fame in the end,
29So sensitive his nature seemed,
30So daring and sweet his thought.
31This other man I had dreamed
32A drunken, vainglorious lout.
33He had done most bitter wrong
34To some who are near my heart,
35Yet I number him in the song;
36He, too, has resigned his part
37In the casual comedy;
38He, too, has been changed in his turn,
39Transformed utterly:
40A terrible beauty is born.
41Hearts with one purpose alone
42Through summer and winter seem
43Enchanted to a stone
44To trouble the living stream.
45The horse that comes from the road,
46The rider, the birds that range
47From cloud to tumbling cloud,
48Minute by minute they change;
49A shadow of cloud on the stream
50Changes minute by minute;
51A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
52And a horse plashes within it;
53The long-legged moor-hens dive,
54And hens to moor-cocks call;
55Minute by minute they live:
56The stone's in the midst of all.
57Too long a sacrifice
58Can make a stone of the heart.
59O when may it suffice?
60That is Heaven's part, our part
61To murmur name upon name,
62As a mother names her child
63When sleep at last has come
64On limbs that had run wild.
65What is it but nightfall?
66No, no, not night but death;
67Was it needless death after all?
68For England may keep faith
69For all that is done and said.
70We know their dream; enough
71To know they dreamed and are dead;
72And what if excess of love
73Bewildered them till they died?
74I write it out in a verse—
75MacDonagh and MacBride
76And Connolly and Pearse
77Now and in time to be,
78Wherever green is worn,
79Are changed, changed utterly:
80A terrible beauty is born.
   September 25, 1916
Publication Start Year: 
1921
Publication Notes: 

Michael Robartes and the Dancer, 1921.

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