City of Brass

City of Brass


Easter 1916, by William Butler Yates

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

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.

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.



  • M

    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.

Previous Posts

Hussein Abdullah gets a penalty for doing sajda in the endzone on Monday Night Football
https://twitter.com/NFL_Memes/status/516788936996573184 As a (very) recent convert to the joy of American Football, I am fascinated by the penalty issued to Kansas City Chiefs' safety Hussein Abdullah for performing a sajda (prayer prostration) of thanks after an epic 39-yard pick-six on Patriots

posted 11:04:12am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

the NFL, concussions, and domestic abuse #WhyIStayed #WhyILeft
A lot of my friends who aren't into football have remarked upon my newfound interest in football as being somewhat out-of-character (true, at first glance, but i'll address that later) and also critiqued the sport for all its attendant social problems. Of those, the two main ones are domestic abuse

posted 5:47:02pm Sep. 12, 2014 | read full post »

13 years after 9-11
I honestly don't have much left to say that I have not said already. But it is worth at least remarking on this, the anniversary of the attacks, that the global challenges facing the world today have almost nothing to do with terrorism or Islamic fanaticism. Yes, we have threats like ISIS to grapple

posted 8:44:01am Sep. 11, 2014 | read full post »

Saudis propose to relocate the Prophet's (saw) tomb from Masjid al-Nabawi
The above photo of the Mecca clock tower, or as I like to call it, "Big Bin", was during my hajj a few years ago. It is part of my general observations of the "Meccahattan"-ization of the holiest place in Islam, the way that the Saudi religious authorities are utterly obliterating the historical wea

posted 10:13:58am Sep. 02, 2014 | read full post »

Post-Ramadan reflections
Welcome back, readers :) My apologies for being so AWOL from blogging. This past Ramadan I had genuinely been able to ramp up my iba

posted 9:48:39am Aug. 27, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

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

All reported content is logged for investigation.