William Butler Yeats

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

A Coat - Poem by William Butler Yeats

I MADE my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world's eyes
As though they'd wrought it.
Song, let them take it,
For there's more enterprise
In walking naked.

Comments about A Coat by William Butler Yeats

  • (1/18/2015 5:27:00 PM)

    what? For the poet more value in doing nothing than in doing something that gets abused? The price of having a name.. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • (11/17/2014 3:58:00 AM)


    His song a coat that other fools took and made their own, and he would rather go about naked

    Poetry is a window to one's soul, to grasp this is to understand poetry
    (Report) Reply

  • Birgitta Abimbola Heikka (4/2/2014 9:30:00 PM)

    Love the ending of this poem: For there is more enterprise in walking naked. Always associated nakedness with shame. Never thought of it in a different way. (Report) Reply

  • (2/2/2014 10:21:00 PM)

    I think he's talking about one's persona, protective outer personality. But then people can take it, leaving the person exposed. So I guess he's then saying, screw it, better to be yourself, be naked and be comfortable with it. (Report) Reply

  • Daniel Richmond (1/18/2014 7:47:00 PM)

    An amazing thought process behind this poem. Simple, biting and fun. I wonder how long it took to write. (Report) Reply

  • (1/18/2014 7:46:00 PM)

    lol....kikiki.more enterprice in walkin' naked...like a coat your poem is a coat..yeah.thanks. (Report) Reply

  • (1/18/2014 5:07:00 PM)

    .............such a prized possession shouldn't be given up so easily... (Report) Reply

    (7/4/2015 3:51:00 PM)

    I think he is talking about the pretentious style of his youth being copied by inferior imitators. Now he prefers to write from the heart, rather than with self-conscious style.

  • (1/18/2014 10:00:00 AM)

    Intriguing.... this has a dreamlike quality but there is something disturbing here to me...the song is placed object like and as if he gifts his song, to swaddle it, almost protect it....mythological embroidery suggests to me that he hoped to protect it and distract others.. its almost like he visualised the title as the coat...heel to throat? overprotective, no way in...fools caught it/ Im guessing stole... as though they wrought rigid wrote i think a play on words here...song... let them take it, like bidding an old friend goodbye
    more enterprise in walking naked, i think its almost like he just accepted it and realised if he just let go it was his release and he felt they would hopefully feel guilty, smothered in the weight of the coat

    sorry if i waffle im just trying to make sense of this...
    (Report) Reply

  • (7/3/2012 10:57:00 PM)

    I've read five W. B. Yeats poems tonight and, It is strange to say but, I don’t believe Mr. Yeats’ poetry can be fully understood for at least a century. I believe he made use of poetic devices beyond the current intellectual boundaries of literature. It’s not stylistic, it’s graphed on a different grid and can only be partially appreciated by what can be plotted in ours. I find it jarring that for all my schooling, no instructor read us Yeats. Maybe this is one reason why but, how I wish they had! I see a lack in my life. (Report) Reply

    (10/27/2014 7:09:00 PM)

    Ellen Lu's explanation further down this page seems perfectly cogent to me. He's getting rid of the mythology wrappings of his poetry because he no longer believes in it, and too many people have copied it anyway. Simple.

  • (1/18/2011 12:07:00 PM)

    I found the ~POEM~ was very, 'soothing'~ with lost's of warmth, and melody. (Report) Reply

  • (1/18/2011 3:57:00 AM)

    This is actually in response to an argument between Yeats and George Moore who accused Yeats of being a poser and pretending that he was from a higher social order than he really was. So this is Yeats saying he doesn\'t care about his outward appearance and status, he is sloughing it all off, ridding himself of his coat. (Report) Reply

  • Praneetha Perera (1/18/2011 12:30:00 AM)

    I like poems written by simple words, then only the others can understand what you have written (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (1/19/2010 7:18:00 AM)

    Pruchnicki - how could anyone “take Yeats’ songs as their own”? You don’t make sense old chap. As for “naked” - if it means anything, it does not mean what you say it does. I cannot see Yeats “dissing” (do you have that word?) his early poetry as bad and dishonest, which is what you are suggesting. He says there is more enterprise in walking naked, which is something else. But what it is he does not say. It could mean he will write no more poetry (after all, the contemporary reader reading this poem, was not to know of what was to come.) . (Report) Reply

  • (1/18/2010 2:27:00 PM)

    Even the most astute reader can fall flat on his face when he misreads a word that didn't make any real sense when he first read it, but that he ignored in his eagerness to explicate the poem's meaning. I read 'from head to throat' for Yeats'
    'from heel to throat.' Of course, in 1914 the word 'coat' meant overcoat or long coat, not the sport coat or jacket that I had in mind. And of course, Yeats' imagery is on the money! Maybe I do need a new pair of spectacles? Just by chance today, I was leafing through my paperback copy of 'Selected Poems and Four Plays, ' when there it was on pp.49-50, at the very top of the page - Out of old mythologies /From heel to throat'!
    (Report) Reply

  • (1/18/2010 9:18:00 AM)

    My goodness, he said, look at all the far-fetched comments posted today! Please consider the following version I discovered by doing a little research..

    I made my song a coat
    covered with embroideries
    out of old mythologies
    from head to throat.

    But the fools caught it,
    wore it in the world's eyes
    as though they'd wrought it.

    Song, let them take it,
    for there's more enterprise
    in walking naked.
    Three sentences that are easily scanned by a reader. Yeats creates a metaphor for his songs (his verse!) in a coat of many colors that cover from head to throat.
    From his intellect and imagination, Yeats says, he has written poems that are meant to be sung, perhaps in celebration of all those mythologies that Yeats studied and admired so much. The second sentence (stanza?) refers to the popularity of his verse that the ignorant or undiscerning take as their own. Finally, the apostrophe asserts that walking naked, exposing one's self to the reader, is a better and more honest tack to take than hiding behind the golden images of myths!
    (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (1/18/2010 6:13:00 AM)

    Another badly-presented poem - surely it isn't too much to ask for someone to get this feature right.

    As for the poem, what do lines 4 to 6 mean? And how can there be “more enterprise/In walking naked” than in writing song? The poem is wonderfully made, but I feel it needs too much unstitching. A poem should carry its full meaning in itself – some poems may be hard to interpret, but their meaning should be entirely expressed in the poem’s words.
    (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (1/18/2010 1:57:00 AM)

    It is certainly his naked expression in poetry without strict form and style he was following earlier with mythologies and philosophic ideas! But he stands tall ever by his Byzantium poems that are my most favourite ones! (Report) Reply

  • (1/18/2010 1:07:00 AM)

    based on this 'original poem'

    Colin J... (1/18/2007 3: 05: 00 PM)
    The original poem is: -

    A COAT

    I made my song a coat
    Covered with embroideries
    Out of old mythologies
    From heel to throat;
    But the fools caught it,
    Wore it in the world's eyes
    As though they'd wrought it.
    Song, let them take it,
    For there's more enterprise
    In walking naked.

    this is more likely about plagiarism...presented in this lines-

    But the fools caught it,
    Wore it in the world's eyes
    As though they'd wrought it.

    yeats might me talking about his self...he may be criticizing....(read below) ..when he'd written poems, ect. using the subject from irish mythology....

    Yeats assembled for children a less detailed version, Irish Fairy Tales, which appeared in 1892. The Wanderings Of Oisin And Other Poems (1889) , took its subject from Irish mythology.

    this is somewhat humorous, and the humor is presented in the last part-

    Song, let them take it,
    For there's more enterprise
    In walking naked.

    this is somewhat like telling that even he'd used the subjects in irish myth...
    the myths, which represents culture, are apprieciated more than his writings....

    well, one thing im sure is.....this is not a serious one....

    hehehehe...hope i made sense....
    (Report) Reply

  • (10/25/2008 10:04:00 PM)

    ¡°A Coat¡± was written in 1912, a period when Yeats was trying to shed his previous style. Yeats¡¯ poetic style and tone had undergone various transformations and he has was always dedicating himself to self-improvement and self -development, enriching and expanding his poetic techniques and finding his own style of writing.

    1889 to 1904 is considered the early stage of Yeat¡¯s poetry. His early poem poems focus on romance (the core of his early symbolism is the image of rose) with most images from Irish myths and folk tales. We can take a close look at the romantic opening lines of his best-known early poem, ¡°The Lake Isle of Innisfree¡± that is deliberately articulated in a dreamlike and obscure language style, which is similar to many like most of his other early poems.

    I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
    And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made

    Adide from his lvish description descriptions of nature and fragrance of imagery and romance, it¡¯s additionally also important to understand that the there are myths and legends of a brave love story behind this island. Yeats is a man continually fascinated by myth, legend, and folklore. and Innisfree and its legend completely capture his imagination.

    A change came when Yeats went through a stage period of self-examination from 1910 to 1914. ' In Coat' is wrote this time. In the poem, the poet determines to dropp all the 'embroideries'' from heel to throat', to abandon 'old mythology', and to ¡°walk naked.¡± and concludes Concluding with a resounding announcement that he would like to cast off his old poetic outlook and move to a naked one by changing both contents and style. In his later works we can see that yeast abandons his once heavily elaborated style and mythologies and develop develops into a simpler, stronger, leaner, and more direct style.
    (Report) Reply

  • (3/8/2008 9:45:00 AM)

    great job............................................ (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: june, song, home, world, dog

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Poem Edited: Friday, April 1, 2011

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