William Butler Yeats

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

A Deep-Sworn Vow - Poem by William Butler Yeats

OTHERS because you did not keep
That deep-sworn vow have been friends of mine;
Yet always when I look death in the face,
When I clamber to the heights of sleep,
Or when I grow excited with wine,
Suddenly I meet your face.


Comments about A Deep-Sworn Vow by William Butler Yeats

  • Ramesh T A (7/1/2018 1:25:00 PM)


    This is just a sample poem for the visionary Poet W B Yeats because after reading his -poems like Byzantium and Return to Byzantium poems, one will conclude so only! (Report) Reply

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  • Petals Azureblue (7/1/2018 1:13:00 PM)


    Unguarded moments reveal its not yet dusted and done despite the unkept vow. Magnificent sestet.
    Yeats is legend... yes.
    (Report) Reply

  • Lungelo S Mbuyazi (7/1/2018 11:11:00 AM)


    Such a thought provoking poem by William Butler Yeats (Report) Reply

  • Harley White (7/1/2018 8:05:00 AM)


    When I clamber to the heights of sleep, ah Yeats... brilliant! (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (7/1/2018 7:16:00 AM)


    When i look death in the face! !

    Thanks for sharing.
    (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (7/1/2018 5:41:00 AM)


    Or when I grow excited with wine,
    Suddenly I meet your face......so touching. Beautiful poem. It is glad that this poem has been selected as the poem of the day.
    (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (7/1/2018 5:38:00 AM)


    Or when I grow excited with wine,
    Suddenly I meet your face......so touching. Beautiful poem.
    (Report) Reply

  • Adrian Flett (7/1/2018 4:36:00 AM)


    The ever presence, the overarching and always recalled 'suddenly I meet your face' (Report) Reply

  • Ruta Mohapatra (7/1/2018 4:18:00 AM)


    That is about deep-seated love. Intensely portrayed! (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (7/1/2018 1:16:00 AM)


    Such a great write by William Butler Yeats👍👍👍 (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (2/23/2018 9:28:00 PM)


    There are some really great comments about this poem and its author below- they are intelligent and profitable and very probing in some cases. (Report) Reply

  • (6/23/2017 8:14:00 PM)


    so good. nice to read this (Report) Reply

  • (2/1/2014 11:07:00 AM)


    This poem is related to another one of Yeats called Speech After Long Silence. Together, they are book-ends for his youth and old age, and reflect his lifelong fascination with Maud Gonne. Without any biographical notes, they remain beautiful. (Report) Reply

  • (10/6/2012 8:52:00 AM)


    His friends have betrayed him and his wife was his only escape. i think (Report) Reply

  • (3/31/2012 1:10:00 PM)


    one of the most beautiful love poems I've ever read (Report) Reply

  • (9/12/2011 12:20:00 PM)


    Those familiar with Yeats biography know that this poem refers to Maud Gonne. In 1889, Yeats met Gonne, then a 23-year-old heiress and ardent Nationalist. Gonne was eighteen months younger than Yeats and later claimed she met the poet as a 'paint-stained art student.' Gonne had admired 'The Isle of Statues' and sought out his acquaintance. Yeats developed an obsessive infatuation with her beauty and outspoken manner, and she was to have a significant and lasting effect on his poetry and his life thereafter. In later years he admitted 'it seems to me that she [Gonne] brought into my life those days—for as yet I saw only what lay upon the surface—the middle of the tint, a sound as of a Burmese gong, an over-powering tumult that had yet many pleasant secondary notes.' Yeats' love initially remained unrequited, in part due to his reluctance to participate in her nationalist activism. His only other love affair during this period was with Olivia Shakespear, whom he had first met in 1896, and parted with one year later. In 1891, he visited Gonne in Ireland and proposed marriage, but was rejected. He later admitted that from that point 'the troubling of my life began'. Yeats proposed to Gonne three more times: in 1899,1900 and 1901. She refused each proposal, and in 1903, to his horror, married the Irish nationalist Major John MacBride. (Report) Reply

  • (8/14/2011 11:17:00 AM)


    It's obvious that Yeats is playing with punctuation. Add a comma after 'OTHERS' and 'VOW' and the true meaning becomes visible:
    ~
    OTHERS, because you did not keep That deep-sworn vow,
    have been friends of mine;
    ~
    Yeats is saying that he has had other lovers, only because of his wife's act of adultery, breaking their wedding vows. And yet, because of his deep love for her, he is constantly reminded of her throughout his life.
    (Report) Reply

  • (1/18/2010 1:16:00 AM)


    i don't think this is about his 'unfaithful' wife.....
    this is more likely a
    bout himself....
    and that durng times he thought of going with other women...he can think about the vow he promised to his wife...the vow probably that he recited during their wedding ceremony...its presented here....

    Or when I grow excited with wine,
    Suddenly I meet your face.
    (Report) Reply

  • (6/4/2008 10:09:00 AM)


    This is one of my 108 favorite poems (Report) Reply

  • (4/8/2007 10:09:00 AM)


    Despite the note below this lovely poem, it is about neither sleep, death, nor friend! Read it. It is like all truly great poems in that it is not entirely explainable, but I can say that it is about a depth of love and loss that cannot be assuaged. Yeats has had lovers since, but at all unguarded moments, he remembers his only great love-very likely his wife (the deep-sworn vow) who was unfaithful to him. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: sleep, death, friend



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 15, 2001


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