Sailing To Byzantium Poem by William Butler Yeats

Sailing To Byzantium

Rating: 3.7

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
---Those dying generations---at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

William F Dougherty 25 April 2012

One of the signal poems of the Twentieth Century, included in every anthology of English poetry.

23 9 Reply
Donal Byrne 21 January 2013

This is poem about the brevity of youth and beauty It is written with such insight and majesty that i am overwhelmed. We all have lived or are living or soon will this glorious brief spell Remember and revel in it to the depths of your soul then Let go Donal

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Michael Harmon 10 August 2009

I believe (correctly, I hope) it was Henry Ford, the creator of the production line for auto manufacturing, who, when asked about the color for his automobiles, famously said: 'You can have any color you like, as long as it's black.' I believe you can rate this poem any way you like, as long as it's 10. :)

17 13 Reply
Peter Stavropoulos 24 October 2009

A joy to read and to listen to. Hearing Yeats read it on YouTube is a treat.

18 11 Reply
David W Choate 27 July 2020

In My Top five Poems. Swapping places at times with William Blake's Tyger Tyger for the number one spot. Ever since I figured out how to read Blake's Rhyming. I have yet to hear any Poetry Reader rhyme " What immortal hand or eye" correctly to " frame thy fearful symmetry" Eye and 'try' in symmetry gots to rhyme yo.

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David Choate 27 June 2020

You Have to Hear Terence McKenna Read It.

1 2 Reply
Michael Walker 05 December 2019

Another poem by Yeats which I studied at university, and have never forgotten. 'This is no country for old men.' Like my country in a way. 'all neglect/ Monuments of unaging intellect'. The young have different tastes than the old, for sure.

2 1 Reply
Francie Lynch 20 February 2015

I like The Fiddler of Dooley as much.

4 1 Reply
you 07 August 2022


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* Sunprincess * 09 June 2014

..........a marvelous masterpiece......I too, would love to be a crown fashioned purely from Byzantium gold... and set with diamonds....

10 2 Reply
William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats

County Dublin / Ireland
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