Advertisement

City of Brass

City of Brass

Easter 1916, by William Butler Yates

I have met them at close of day

Coming with vivid faces

From counter or desk among grey

Eighteenth-century houses.

I have passed with a nod of the head

Or polite meaningless words,

Or have lingered awhile and said

Polite meaningless words,

And thought before I had done

Of a mocking tale or a gibe

To please a companion

Around the fire at the club,

Being certain that they and I

But lived where motley is worn:

All changed, changed utterly:

A terrible beauty is born.

That woman’s days were spent

In ignorant good-will,

Her nights in argument

Until her voice grew shrill.

What voice more sweet than hers

When, young and beautiful,

She rode to harriers?

This man had kept a school

And rode our winged horse;

This other his helper and friend

Was coming into his force;

He might have won fame in the end,

So sensitive his nature seemed,

So daring and sweet his thought.

This other man I had dreamed

A drunken, vainglorious lout.

He had done most bitter wrong

To some who are near my heart,

Yet I number him in the song;

He, too, has resigned his part

In the casual comedy;

He, too, has been changed in his turn,

Transformed utterly:

A terrible beauty is born.

Advertisement

Hearts with one purpose alone

Through summer and winter seem

Enchanted to a stone

To trouble the living stream.

The horse that comes from the road.

The rider, the birds that range

From cloud to tumbling cloud,

Minute by minute they change;

A shadow of cloud on the stream

Changes minute by minute;

A horse-hoof slides on the brim,

And a horse plashes within it;

The long-legged moor-hens dive,

And hens to moor-cocks call;

Minute by minute they live:

The stone’s in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice

Can make a stone of the heart.

O when may it suffice?

That is Heaven’s part, our part

To murmur name upon name,

As a mother names her child

When sleep at last has come

On limbs that had run wild.

What is it but nightfall?

No, no, not night but death;

Was it needless death after all?

For England may keep faith

For all that is done and said.

We know their dream; enough

To know they dreamed and are dead;

And what if excess of love

Bewildered them till they died?

I write it out in a verse –

MacDonagh and MacBride

And Connolly and Pearse

Now and in time to be,

Wherever green is worn,

Are changed, changed utterly:

A terrible beauty is born.

Advertisement
Comments read comments(1)
post a comment
M

posted April 5, 2010 at 10:45 am


I am of Irish descent, and I thank you for posting this. His poem refers to the Irish overthrow of English colonialism, which was “terrible” but necessary.



report abuse
 



Previous Posts

Obama quoted my letter about my daughter
This is a guest post by Ali Asghar Alibhai. There is no question that the America my generation grew up in is much different than the America of now. I grew up in West Texas, a place that some might consider as among the most conservative in ...

posted 1:30:00pm Feb. 04, 2016 | read full post »

Who was Saudi Shi'a Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr?
Yesterday, the Saudi government executed the Shi'a cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, as an enemy of the state. His ...

posted 2:12:32pm Jan. 03, 2016 | read full post »

Hijab Wars
It's fundamentally problematic for a man to weigh in on hijab. That hasn't stopped me from wading into the topic before (see: The Burka and the Bikini), but the only conversation of substance that can happen on the topic is between Muslim women, ...

posted 3:13:28am Dec. 22, 2015 | read full post »

Misquoted verses in the Qur'an (and the Bible)
This is a popular graphic that makes the ruonds on Facebook from time to time, so I thought I'd publish it here for reference. These five verses are among the most common ones that Islamophobes use to justify arguments that Muslims are evil ...

posted 12:15:12pm Dec. 15, 2015 | read full post »

Trump, the cartoon enemy
It needs to be said - that Trump is a symptom, not a disease. There has been a GOP War on Muslims for years, and despite heroic efforts by Republican Muslim Americans to sway opinion, the bottom line is that Muslim hatred is a prerequisite for ...

posted 12:50:28pm Dec. 11, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.