Ego Dominus Tuus

Ego Dominus Tuus

Original Text

Yeats, William Butler. W. B. Yeats: Selected Poetry: 77-79. Ed. by A. Norman Jeffares. London: Macmillan, 1968.

1On the grey sand beside the shallow stream
2Under your old wind-beaten tower, where still
3A lamp burns on beside the open book
4That Michael Robartes left, you walk in the moon
5And though you have passed the best of life still trace
6Enthralled by the unconquerable delusion
7Magical shapes.
8Ille. By the help of an image
9I call to my own opposite, summon all
10That I have handled least, least looked upon.
11Hic. And I would find myself and not an image.
12Ille. That is our modern hope and by its light
13We have lit upon the gentle, sensitive mind
14And lost the old nonchalance of the hand;
15Whether we have chosen chisel, pen or brush
16We are but critics, or but half create,
17Timid, entangled, empty and abashed
18Lacking the countenance of our friends.
19Hic. And yet
20The chief imagination of Christendom
21Dante Alighieri, so utterly found himself
22That he has made that hollow face of his
23More plain to the mind’s eye than any face
24But that of Christ.
25Ille. And did he find himself,
26Or was the hunger that had made it hollow
27A hunger for the apple on the bough
28Most out of reach? and is that spectral image
29The man that Lapo and that Guido knew?
30I think he fashioned from his opposite
31An image that might have been a stony face,
32Staring upon a bedouin’s horse-hair roof
33From doored and windowed cliff, or half upturned
34Among the coarse grass and the camel dung.
35He set his chisel to the hardest stone.
36Being mocked by Guido for his lecherous life,
37Derided and deriding, driven out
38To climb that stair and eat that bitter bread,
39He found the unpersuadable justice, he found
40The most exalted lady loved by a man.
41Hic. Yet surely there are men who have made their art
42Out of no tragic war, lovers of life,
43Impulsive men that look for happiness
44And sing when they have found it.
45Ille. No, not sing,
46For those that love the world serve it in action,
47Grow rich, popular and full of influence,
48And should they paint or write still it is action:
49The struggle of the fly in marmalade.
50The rhetorician would deceive his neighbours,
51The sentimentalist himself; while art
52Is but a vision of reality.
53What portion in the world can the artist have
54Who has awakened from the common dream
55But dissipation and despair?
56Hic. And yet
57No one denies to Keats love of the world;
58Remember his deliberate happiness.
59Ille. His art is happy but who knows his mind?
60I see a schoolboy when I think of him,
61With face and nose pressed to a sweet-shop window,
62For certainly he sank into his grave
63His senses and his heart unsatisfied,
64And made—being poor, ailing and ignorant,
65Shut out from all the luxury of the world,
66The coarse-bred son of a livery stablekeeper—
67Luxuriant song.
68Hic. Why should you leave the lamp
69Burning alone beside an open book
70And trace these characters upon the sands;
71A style is found by sedentary toil
72And by the imitation of great masters.
73Ille. Because I seek an image, not a book.
74Those men that in their writings are most wise
75Own nothing but their blind, stupefied hearts.
76I call to the mysterious one who yet
77Shall walk the wet sands by the edge of the stream
78And look most like me, being indeed my double,
79And prove of all imaginable things
80The most unlike, being my anti-self,
81And standing by these characters disclose
82All that I seek; and whisper it as though
83He were afraid the birds, who cry aloud
84Their momentary cries before it is dawn,
85Would carry it away to blasphemous men.
Publication Start Year
Publication Notes

The Wild Swans at Coole, 1919.

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