Long-Legged Fly

Original Text: 

Yeats, William Butler. W. B. Yeats: Selected Poetry: 181-182. Ed. by A. Norman Jeffares. London: Macmillan, 1968.

1That civilization may not sink
2Its great battle lost,
3Quiet the dog, tether the pony
4To a distant post.
5Our master Caesar is in the tent
6Where the maps are spread,
7His eyes fixed upon nothing,
8A hand under his head.
9Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
10His mind moves upon silence.
11That the topless towers be burnt
12And men recall that face,
13Move most gently if move you must
14In this lonely place.
15She thinks, part woman, three parts a child,
16That nobody looks; her feet
17Practice a tinker shuffle
18Picked up on the street.
19Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
20Her mind moves upon silence.
21That girls at puberty may find
22The first Adam in their thought,
23Shut the door of the Pope's Chapel,
24Keep those children out.
25There on that scaffolding reclines
26Michael Angelo.
27With no more sound than the mice make
28His hand moves to and fro.
29Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
30His mind moves upon silence.
Publication Start Year: 
1939
Publication Notes: 

Last Poems (1936-1939)

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