William Butler Yeats

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

The Statesman's Holiday

Poem by William Butler Yeats

I LIVED among great houses,
Riches drove out rank,
Base drove out the better blood,
And mind and body shrank.
No Oscar ruled the table,
But I'd a troop of friends
That knowing better talk had gone
Talked of odds and ends.
Some knew what ailed the world
But never said a thing,
So I have picked a better trade
And night and morning sing:
Tall dames go walking in grass-green Avalon.

Am I a great Lord Chancellor
That slept upon the Sack?
Commanding officer that tore
The khaki from his back?
Or am I de Valera,
Or the King of Greece,
Or the man that made the motors?
Ach, call me what you please!
Here's a Montenegrin lute,
And its old sole string
Makes me sweet music
And I delight to sing:
Tall dames go walking in grass-green Avalon.

With boys and girls about him.
With any sort of clothes,
With a hat out of fashion,
With Old patched shoes,
With a ragged bandit cloak,
With an eye like a hawk,
With a stiff straight back,
With a strutting turkey walk.
With a bag full of pennies,
With a monkey on a chain,
With a great cock's feather,
With an old foul tune.
Tall dames go walking in grass-green Avalon.


Comments about The Statesman's Holiday by William Butler Yeats

  • Michael WalkerMichael Walker (6/30/2020 9:20:00 PM)

    Yeats wrote this poem from personal experience of having been a Senator in parliament. He seems to write satirically of the pompous men who occupied high positions in the state once.
    The last stanza, which has so much repetition of 'with' could refer to Yeats himself.(Report)Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 17, 2001