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Easter, 1916 - Poem by William Butler Yeats

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road.
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone's in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Comments about Easter, 1916 by William Butler Yeats

  • Rookie Nicholas Power (10/4/2018 8:51:00 AM)

    Please capitalize Pearse in the fifth to last line. (Report) Reply

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  • Rookie Owen Morelli (5/2/2018 3:20:00 PM)

    the sadness in this poem but also the notion of sacrifice grabbed my attention on this one, I may only have Irish heritage from half my family but this still seems important to me, My own grandfather almost met the same fate from being a gun runner for the Irish military, This is the best poem I have ever read. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 856 Points John Pendrey (12/12/2017 4:58:00 AM)

    I first saw this poem in “The Poetry of a People” by Andrew Marr. I like to stay out of politics and this poem confirms my dislike of Nationalism:
    “Enchanted to a Stone
    To trouble the living stream” (Report) Reply

Read all 9 comments »

Poems About Easter

  1. 1. Easter, 1916 , William Butler Yeats
  2. 2. Easter Communion , Gerard Manley Hopkins
  3. 3. Easter , Edmund Spenser
  4. 4. Easter Wings , George Herbert
  5. 5. Easter , George Herbert
  6. 6. Easter Day , Oscar Wilde
  7. 7. Easter Song , George Herbert
  8. 8. Poem For Easter , Steve Turner
  9. 9. The Easter Flower , Claude McKay
  10. 10. Easter Week , Charles Kingsley
  11. 11. On Easter Day , Oscar Wilde
  12. 12. Easter , Joyce Kilmer
  13. 13. Easter-Day , Robert Browning
  14. 14. The Cast Of Christmas Reassembles For Ea.. , Steve Turner
  15. 15. Easter Week , Joyce Kilmer
  16. 16. Easter Even , Christina Georgina Rossetti
  17. 17. Easter , Emily Pauline Johnson
  18. 18. Resurrection - The Easter Story , Ernestine Northover
  19. 19. In Memoriam (Easter, 1915) , Edward Thomas
  20. 20. An Easter Flower Gift , John Greenleaf Whittier
  21. 21. The Meaning Of Easter (Christmas) , Leslie Alexis
  22. 22. Fifth Sunday After Easter - Rogation Sun.. , John Keble
  23. 23. Easter Morning , Amy Clampitt
  24. 24. Easter Zunday , Ingeborg Bachmann
  25. 25. Easter Zunday , William Barnes
  26. 26. Two Easter Stanzas , Vachel Lindsay
  27. 27. Easter Eve , John Keble
  28. 28. Those Hands That Gave (Easter Poem) , ANDREW BLAKEMORE
  29. 29. Easter- The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ.. , Dr. A.Celestine Raj Manohar ..
  30. 30. Haiku ~ Easter Lilies , Mary Havran
  31. 31. Easter , Katharine Tynan
  32. 32. For Easter Sunday , Anna Laetitia Barbauld
  33. 33. How Easter Eggs Get Their Colors , Mary Havran
  34. 34. Easter Eve , Archibald Lampman
  35. 35. *500 Easter Ad 33 , John Knight
  36. 36. First Sunday After Easter , John Keble
  37. 37. Second Sunday After Easter , John Keble
  38. 38. Thursday Before Easter , John Keble
  39. 39. Easter Morning , Archie Randolph Ammons
  40. 40. The Vision: (Katia: Easter Sunday, 1916) , Katharine Tynan
  41. 41. I: Easter Hymn , Alfred Edward Housman
  42. 42. Wednesday Before Easter , John Keble
  43. 43. (un) Happy Easter , CeCe Lamberts
  44. 44. Third Sunday After Easter , John Keble
  45. 45. Tuesday Before Easter , John Keble
  46. 46. The Tale Of Easter Lilies-(Resubmission) , Valsa George
  47. 47. Tuesday In Easter Week , John Keble
  48. 48. Fourth Sunday After Easter , John Keble
  49. 49. Monday Before Easter , John Keble
  50. 50. Monday In Easter Week , John Keble
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