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Among School Children - Poem by William Butler Yeats

I WALK through the long schoolroom questioning;
A kind old nun in a white hood replies;
The children learn to cipher and to sing,
To study reading-books and histories,
To cut and sew, be neat in everything
In the best modern way -- the children's eyes
In momentary wonder stare upon
A sixty-year-old smiling public man.
I dream of a Ledaean body, bent
Above a sinking fire. a tale that she
Told of a harsh reproof, or trivial event
That changed some childish day to tragedy --
Told, and it seemed that our two natures blent
Into a sphere from youthful sympathy,
Or else, to alter Plato's parable,
Into the yolk and white of the one shell.

III
And thinking of that fit of grief or rage
I look upon one child or t'other there
And wonder if she stood so at that age --
For even daughters of the swan can share
Something of every paddler's heritage --
And had that colour upon cheek or hair,
And thereupon my heart is driven wild:
She stands before me as a living child.
Her present image floats into the mind --
Did Quattrocento finger fashion it
Hollow of cheek as though it drank the wind
And took a mess of shadows for its meat?
And I though never of Ledaean kind
Had pretty plumage once -- enough of that,
Better to smile on all that smile, and show
There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow.
What youthful mother, a shape upon her lap
Honey of generation had betrayed,
And that must sleep, shriek, struggle to escape
As recollection or the drug decide,
Would think her Son, did she but see that shape
With sixty or more winters on its head,
A compensation for the pang of his birth,
Or the uncertainty of his setting forth?
Plato thought nature but a spume that plays
Upon a ghostly paradigm of things;
Solider Aristotle played the taws
Upon the bottom of a king of kings;
World-famous golden-thighed Pythagoras
Fingered upon a fiddle-stick or strings
What a star sang and careless Muses heard:
Old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird.

VII
Both nuns and mothers worship images,
But thos the candles light are not as those
That animate a mother's reveries,
But keep a marble or a bronze repose.
And yet they too break hearts -- O presences
That passion, piety or affection knows,
And that all heavenly glory symbolise --
O self-born mockers of man's enterprise;
VIII
Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul.
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?


Comments about Among School Children by William Butler Yeats

  • Freshman - 571 Points Ray Burleigh (4/23/2016 5:27:00 AM)

    If we imagine that there is a beginning and end to things then this poem and the Lake isle at innesfree are the beginning of the voice of the 2oth century. And Yeats last question, which Auden, Pound, Williams, Frost and even Ginsberg have tried to answer: o chestnut tree, are you the leaf, blossom or bole? Is still unanswered. (Report) Reply

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Poems About School

  1. 1. First Day At School , Roger McGough
  2. 2. In School-Days , John Greenleaf Whittier
  3. 3. School Is Not So Cool , Chantel Braatz
  4. 4. The Flower-School , Rabindranath Tagore
  5. 5. Among School Children , William Butler Yeats
  6. 6. School Just School , kerri king
  7. 7. September, The First Day Of School , Howard Nemerov
  8. 8. On Old Man's Thought Of School , Walt Whitman
  9. 9. The School Of Metaphysics , Charles Simic
  10. 10. Address To The Scholars Of The Village S.. , William Wordsworth
  11. 11. A School Song , Rudyard Kipling
  12. 12. Lines Written As A School Exercise At Ha.. , William Wordsworth
  13. 13. School School School , somebody u will never know
  14. 14. School , Dwayne Earle Gordon
  15. 15. Stay In School , Leon Thomas Lee
  16. 16. The Junior High School Band Concert , David Wagoner
  17. 17. Going To School , Clarence Michael James Stani ..
  18. 18. Kitchener's School , Rudyard Kipling
  19. 19. The Latest School , Gilbert Keith Chesterton
  20. 20. Sonnet: On School-Life , Dr. A.Celestine Raj Manohar ..
  21. 21. School , Jamie Parker
  22. 22. M. Degas Teaches Art &Amp; Science At Du.. , Philip Levine
  23. 23. School , Miss Smiley face
  24. 24. The Prelude, Book 1: Childhood And Schoo.. , William Wordsworth
  25. 25. Going Back To School , Stephen Vincent Benet
  26. 26. Tests And Homework And Quizzes And School , David Kulczyk
  27. 27. On The School Bus , Alison Cassidy
  28. 28. The Old Bark School , Henry Lawson
  29. 29. High School Slinger , Omar Ali Sabar
  30. 30. School , Samantha Holstiene
  31. 31. The Old School List , James Kenneth Stephen
  32. 32. Walking Through High School , Heather Hill
  33. 33. School Rhymes , James Clerk Maxwell
  34. 34. Senryu - Back To School , Don Haney
  35. 35. O The Pressures Of School , Fidelis Patronus
  36. 36. (009) My School Conducts Athletic Meet , Risha Ahmed (12 yrs)
  37. 37. I Sent My Child To School Today , Doug Hollywood Davis
  38. 38. The Journey From School And To School , Charles Lamb
  39. 39. (01) A Farewell To My School , Lubna S. Khan
  40. 40. Come, Pretty School-Girl! , Henry Clay Work
  41. 41. 'An Old School Valentine' , Linda Winchell
  42. 42. The Prelude, Book 2: School-Time (Contin.. , William Wordsworth
  43. 43. School , logan dillie
  44. 44. A School Is So Not Cool , fahed sharaf
  45. 45. School , Brian Aji
  46. 46. School Time , jibin joseph
  47. 47. In School , Elorm Dogbo
  48. 48. (117) I’m Late For School , Risha Ahmed (12 yrs)
  49. 49. A Little Girl's First School Day , Ben Gieske
  50. 50. Leaving School , Jane Tomlin
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