Introductory Rhymes

Original Text: 

Yeats, William Butler. W. B. Yeats: Selected Poetry: 49. Ed. by A. Norman Jeffares. London: Macmillan, 1968.

1Pardon, old fathers, if you still remain
2Somewhere in ear-shot for the story’s end,
3Old Dublin merchant 'free of ten and four'
4Or trading out of Galway into Spain;
5And country scholar, Robert Emmet's friend,
6A hundred-year-old memory to the poor;
7Traders or soldiers who have left me blood
8That has not passed through any huxter’s loin,
9Pardon, and you that did not weigh the cost,
10Old Butlers when you took to horse and stood
11Beside the brackish waters of the Boyne
12Till your bad master blenched and all was lost;
13You merchant skipper that leaped overboard
14After a ragged hat in Biscay Bay,
15You most of all, silent and fierce old man
16Because you were the spectacle that stirred
17My fancy, and set my boyish lips to say
18'Only the wastful virtues earn the sun';
19Pardon that for a barren passion’s sake,
20Although I have come close on forty-nine
21I have no child, I have nothing but a book,
22Nothing but that to prove your blood and mine.
   January 1914
Publication Start Year: 
1914
Publication Notes: 

Responsibilities, 1914.

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