William Butler Yeats

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

To Songs Of A Fool


I
A SPECKLED cat and a tame hare
Eat at my hearthstone
And sleep there;
And both look up to me alone
For learning and defence
As I look up to providence.
I start out of my sleep to think
Some day I may forget
Their food and drink;
Or, the house door left unshut,
The hare may run till it's found
The horn's sweet note and the tooth of the hound.
I bear a burden that might well try
Men that do all by rule,
And what can I
That am a wandering-witted fool
But pray to God that He ease
My great responsibilities?
I slept on my three-legged stool by thc fire.
The speckled cat slept on my knee;
We never thought to enquire
Where the brown hare might be,
And whether the door were shut.
Who knows how she drank the wind
Stretched up on two legs from the mat,
Before she had settled her mind
To drum with her heel and to leap?
Had I but awakened from sleep
And called her name, she had heard.
It may be, and had not stirred,
That now, it may be, has found
The horn's sweet note and the tooth of the hound.

ANOTHER SONG OF A FOOL

THIS great purple butterfly,
In the prison of my hands,
Has a learning in his eye
Not a poor fool understands.
Once he lived a schoolmaster
With a stark, denying look;
A string of scholars went in fear
Of his great birch and his great book.
Like the clangour of a bell,
Sweet and harsh, harsh and sweet.
That is how he learnt so well
To take the roses for his meat.

Submitted: Thursday, May 17, 2001

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