William Butler Yeats

(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939 / County Dublin / Ireland)

Sixteen Dead Men Poem by William Butler Yeats


O BUT we talked at large before
The sixteen men were shot,
But who can talk of give and take,
What should be and what not
While those dead men are loitering there
To stir the boiling pot?
You say that we should still the land
Till Germany's overcome;
But who is there to argue that
Now Pearse is deaf and dumb?
And is their logic to outweigh
MacDonagh's bony thumb?
how could you dream they'd listen
That have an ear alone
For those new comrades they have found,
Lord Edward and Wolfe Tone,
Or meddle with our give and take
That converse bone to bone?

Submitted: Wednesday, May 16, 2001

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Comments about this poem (Sixteen Dead Men by William Butler Yeats )

  • Silver Star - 3,871 Points Douglas Scotney (10/25/2014 8:43:00 PM)

    too many issues to make a stand for one (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,514 Points Michael Morgan (10/25/2014 12:31:00 PM)

    another fine-sounding Yeats poem that leaves you uncertain about what he's saying politically. Even his Casement poem makes the horrible denouement sound like a case of regrettable overkill. Only after the Easter Uprising does he seem to commit fully to the Irish cause. (Report) Reply

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