Two Songs from a Play

Two Songs from a Play

Original Text

Yeats, William Butler. W. B. Yeats: Selected Poetry: 125-126. Ed. by A. Norman Jeffares. London: Macmillan, 1968.

1I saw a staring virgin stand
2Where holy Dionysus died,
3And tear the heart out of his side.
4And lay the heart upon her hand
5And bear that beating heart away;
6And then did all the Muses sing
7Of Magnus Annus at the spring,
8As though God's death were but a play.
9Another Troy must rise and set,
10Another lineage feed the crow,
11Another Argo's painted prow
12Drive to a flashier bauble yet.
13The Roman Empire stood appalled:
14It dropped the reins of peace and war
15When that fierce virgin and her Star
16Out of the fabulous darkness called.
17In pity for man's darkening thought
18He walked that room and issued thence
19In Galilean turbulence;
20The Babylonian starlight brought
21A fabulous, formless darkness in;
22Odour of blood when Christ was slain
23Made all platonic tolerance vain
24And vain all Doric discipline.
25Everything that man esteems
26Endures a moment or a day.
27Love's pleasure drives his love away,
28The painter's brush consumes his dreams;
29The herald's cry, the soldier's tread
30Exhaust his glory and his might:
31Whatever flames upon the night
32Man's own resinous heart has fed.
Publication Start Year
Publication Notes

The Tower, 1928.

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