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William Butler Yeats
1865 - 1939

An Irishman who in his early twenties turned from painting to writing, Yeats is generally considered (Benét's) one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. "The three major concerns of his life -- art, Irish nationalism, and occult studies -- are also central to his poetry and drama. His greatest works is in the poetry of his maturity and old age ..." Yeats was to edit the works of William Blake in 1893. In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Benét's considered his best poems, to include; "Byzantium," "A Prayer for My Daughter," "Leda and the Swan," "Among School Children," "Lapis Lazuli," "Long-Legged Fly," and "Crazy Jane."

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Down by the Salley Gardens
The falling of the leaves
A Drinking Song
The Four Ages of Man

Brown Penny

Brown Penny

I WHISPERED, “I am too young,”
And then, “I am old enough;”
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
“Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair.”
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.
O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love.
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

The falling of the leaves

Autumn is over the long leaves that love us
And over the mice in the barley sheaves.
Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us
And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.

The hour of the waning of love has beset us
And weary and worn are our sad souls now.
Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us
With a kiss and tear on thy drooping brow.

Down by the Salley Gardens

DOWN by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.
In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

A Drinking Song

WINE comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and sigh.

The Four Ages of Man

He with body waged a fight,
But body won; it walks upright.

Then he struggled with the heart;
Innocence and peace depart.

Then he struggled with the mind;
His proud heart he left behind.

Now his wars on God begin;
As stroke of midnight God shall win.


O sweet everlasting Voices be still;
Go to the guards of the heavenly fold
And bid them wander obeying your will
Flame under flame, till Time be no more;
Have you not heard that our hearts are old,
That you call in birds, in wind on the hill,
In shaken boughs, in tide on the shore?
O sweet everlasting Voices be still. 

William Butler Yeats 

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© 2000 Elena and Yacov Feldman