Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

William Butler Yeats

Irish Poet, Playwright

"Arose, and on the instant clamorous eaves,"

"Art bids us touch and taste and hear and see the world, and shrinks from what Blake calls mathematic form, from every abstract form, from all that is of the brain only."

"As I thought of these things, I drew aside the curtains and looked out into the darkness, and it seemed to my troubled fancy that all those little points of light filling the sky were the furnaces of innumerable divine alchemists, who labor continually, turning lead into gold, weariness into ecstasy, bodies into souls, the darkness into God; and at their perfect labor my mortality grew heavy, and I cried out, as so many dreamers and men of letters in our age have cried, for the birth of that elaborate spiritual beauty which could alone uplift souls weighted with so many dreams."

"As though I'd a gun."

"At the sword-point, and waits till we have found"

"Autumn was over him: and now they stood."

"At midnight on the Emperor?s pavement flit flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit, nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame, where blood-begotten spirits come and all complexities of fury leave, dying into a dance, an agony of trance, an agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve."

"Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise."

"Be secret and exult, because of all things known that is most difficult."

"Because I have come into my strength."

"Be as broken in the end."

"Be you still, be you still, trembling heart; remember the wisdom out of the old days: him who trembles before the flame and the flood, and the winds that blow through the starry ways, let the starry winds and the flame and the flood cover over and hide, for he has no part with the lonely, majestical multitude."

"Because their blossoming dreams have never bent."

"Because our love is waning."

"Because there is safety in derision I talked about an apparition, I took no trouble to convince, or seem plausible to a man of sense."

"Been content to live."

"Before her wandering feet."

"Before me floats an image, man or shade, shade more than man, more image than a shade; for Hades' bobbin bound in mummy-cloth may unwind the winding path; a mouth that has no moisture and no breath breathless mouths may summon."

"Before The World Was Made - If I make the lashes dark and the eyes more bright and the lips more scarlet, or ask if all be right from mirror after mirror, no vanity's displayed: I'm looking for the face I had before the world was made. What if I look upon a man as though on my beloved, and my blood be cold the while and my heart unmoved? Why should he think me cruel or that he is betrayed? I'd have him love the thing that was before the world was made."

"Before us lies eternity; our souls."

"Being by Calvary's turbulence unsatisfied."

"Before you were, or any hearts to beat."

"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy."

"Being high and solitary and most stern?"

"Being young you have not known."

"Being so caught up, so mastered by the brute blood of the air, did she put on his knowledge with his power before the indifferent beak could let her drop?"

"Between wood?s rim and the horses of the sea."

"Beloved, gaze in thine own heart, the holy tree is growing there; from joy the holy branches start, and all the trembling flowers they bear. The changing colors of its fruit have dowered the stars with merry light; the surety of its hidden root has planted quiet in the night; the shaking of its leafy head has given the waves their melody, and made my lips and music wed, murmuring a wizard song for thee. There the Loves a circle go, the flaming circle of our days, gyring, spiring to and fro in those great ignorant leafy ways; remembering all that shaken hair and how the wingŠd sandals dart, thine eyes grow full of tender care: Beloved, gaze in thine own heart. Gaze no more in the bitter glass the demons, with their subtle guile, lift up before us when they pass, or only gaze a little while; for there a fatal image grows that the stormy night receives, roots half hidden under snows, broken boughs and blackened leaves. For all things turn to barrenness in the dim glass the demons hold, the glass of outer weariness, made when God slept in times of old. There, through the broken branches, go the ravens of unresting thought; flying, crying, to and fro, cruel claw and hungry throat, or else they stand and sniff the wind, and shake their ragged wings; alas! Thy tender eyes grow all unkind: gaze no more in the bitter glass."

"Beyond where the waters are moving,"

"Bewildered them till they died?"

"Books are but waste paper unless we spend in action the wisdom we get from thought - asleep. When we are weary of the living, we may repair to the dead, who have nothing of peevishness, pride, or design in their conversation."

"Bow down, archangels, in your dim abode: before you were, or any hearts to beat, weary and kind one lingered by his seat; he made the world to be a grassy road before her wandering feet."

"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, I 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."

"Buried under the sleepy ground."

"Burning in fires of a slanderous tongue."

"But ah! She dreams not now; dream thou!"

"But I being poor have only my dreams. I have laid my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

"But is there any comfort to be found? Man is in love and loves what vanishes, What more is there to say?"

"But if your master comes home triumphing?"

"But O, sick children of the world."

"But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you."

"But tell your name and lineage to him"

"But the sad dweller by the sea-ways lone."

"But I am old and you are young."

"But he heard high up in the air a piper piping away, and never was piping so sad, and never was piping so gay."

"But louder sang that ghost, 'What then??"

"But Love has pitched his mansion in the place of excrement; for nothing can be sole or whole that has not been rent."

"But now I have no need to watch it more."

"But now the war-rage in Cuchulain woke."

"But was there ever dog that praised his fleas?"