Yeats, William Butler. W. B. Yeats: Selected Poetry: 55-56. Ed. by A. Norman Jeffares. London: Macmillan, 1968.
1What need you, being come to sense,
2But fumble in a greasy till
3And add the halfpence to the pence
4And prayer to shivering prayer, until
5You have dried the marrow from the bone;
6For men were born to pray and save:
7Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
8It’s with O’Leary in the grave.
9Yet they were of a different kind
10The names that stilled your childish play,
11They have gone about the world like wind,
12But little time had they to pray
13For whom the hangman’s rope was spun,
14And what, God help us, could they save:
15Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
16It’s with O’Leary in the grave.
17Was it for this the wild geese spread
18The grey wing upon every tide;
19For this that all that blood was shed,
20For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
21And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
22All that delirium of the brave;
23Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
24It’s with O’Leary in the grave.
25Yet could we turn the years again,
26And call those exiles as they were,
27In all their loneliness and pain
28You’d cry ‘Some woman’s yellow hair
29Has maddened every mother’s son’:
30They weighed so lightly what they gave,
31But let them be, they’re dead and gone,
32They’re with O’Leary in the grave.
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RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh