Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

William Butler Yeats

Irish Poet, Playwright

"Ecstasy is from the contemplation of things vaster than the individual and imperfectly seen perhaps, by all those that still live."

"Edain came out of Midhir's hill, and lay beside young Aengus in his tower of glass, where time is drowned in odor-laden winds and Druid moons, and murmuring of boughs, and sleepy boughs, and boughs where apples made of opal and ruhy and pale chrysolite awake unsleeping fires; and wove seven strings, sweet with all music, out of his long hair, because her hands had been made wild by love. When Midhir's wife had changed her to a fly, he made a harp with Druid apple-wood that she among her winds might know he wept; and from that hour he has watched over none but faithful lovers."

"Each county has usually some family, or personage, supposed to have been favoured or plagued, especially by the phantoms, as the Hackets of Castle Hacket, Galway, who had for their ancestor a fairy, or John-o'-Daly of Lisadell, Sligo, who wrote Eilleen Aroon,"

"Even as Spring upon the ancient skies."

"Englishmen are babes in philosophy and so prefer faction-fighting to the labor of its unfamiliar thought."

"Even when I was a boy I could never walk in a wood without feeling that at any moment I might find before me somebody or something I had long looked for without knowing what I looked for. And now I will at times explore every little nook of some poor coppice with almost anxious footsteps, so deep a hold has this imagination upon me. You too meet with a like imagination, doubtless, somewhere, wherever your ruling stars will have it, Saturn driving you to the woods, or the Moon, it may be, to the edges of the sea. I will not of a certainty believe that there is nothing in the sunset, where our forefathers imagined the dead following their shepherd the sun, or nothing but some vague presence as little moving as nothing. If beauty is not a gateway out of the net we were taken in at our birth, it will not long be beauty, and we will find it better to sit at home by the fire and fatten a lazy body or to run hither and thither in some foolish sport than to look at the finest show that light and shadow ever made among green leaves. I say to myself, when I am well out of that thicket of argument, that they are surely there, the divine people, for only we who have neither simplicity nor wisdom have denied them, and the simple of all times and the wise men of ancient times have seen them and even spoken to them."

"Every conquering temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before."

"Even the wisest man grows tense with some sort of violence/before he can accomplish fate,know his work or choose his mate."

"Everything is conceived and born, dies."

"Everything exists, everything is true and the earth is just a bit of dust beneath our feet."

"Every common woman knows."

"Everything he wrote was read."

"Everyone is a visionary, if you scratch him deep enough. But the Celt is a visionary without scratching."

"Everything that man esteems endures a moment or a day. Love?s pleasure drives his love away, the painter?s brush consumes his dreams."

"Everything that's lovely is but a brief, dreamy kind of delight."

"Fair and foul are near of kin, and fair needs foul, I cried. My friends are gone, but thats a truth nor grave nor bed denied."

"Evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare."

"Faeries, come take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind, run on the top of the disheveled tide, and dance upon the mountains like a flame."

"Fairies in Ireland are sometimes as big as we are, sometimes bigger, and sometimes, as I have been told, about three feet high."

"Fifteen apparitions have I seen; the worst a coat upon a coat-hanger."

"Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once."

"Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long."

"Flame under flame, till Time be no more."

"For fair are poppies on the brow."

"Fight the midst of silence."

"For he comes, the human child! To the waters and the wild with a faery, hand in hand, from a world more full of weeping than he can understand."

"For he would be thinking of love till the stars had run away and the shadows eaten the moon."

"For Fergus rules the brazen cars."

"Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit."

"For He who made you bitter made you wise."

"For nothing can be sole or whole. That has not been rent."

"For such, being made beautiful overmuch, consider beauty a sufficient end, lose natural kindness and maybe the heart-revealing intimacy that chooses right, and never find a friend."

"For the good are always the merry, save by an evil chance, and the merry love the fiddle, and the merry love to dance: and when the folk there spy me, they will all come up to me, with, here is the fiddler of Dooney! and dance like a wave of the sea."

"For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."

"For there the mystical brotherhood."

"For the winds that awakened the stars are blowing through my blood."

"For these red lips, with all their mournful pride."

"For those that love the world serve it in action, grow rich, popular, and full of influence; and should they paint or write still is it action, the struggle of the fly in marmalade."

"For to articulate sweet sounds together is to work harder than all these, and yet be thought an idler by the noisy set of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen the martyrs call the world."

"For wind or water?s roar?"

"For words alone are certain good."

"For three days more in dreadful quietude."

"Forced to laugh by the bard."

"From counter or desk among grey."

"Friends that have been friends indeed."

"Fought with the invulnerable tide."

"From man's blood-sodden heart are sprung those branches of the night and day where the gaudy moon is hung. What's the meaning of all song? Let all things pass away."

"Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,"

"Generations fatal, and each of them singing."

"From self-same dolt and knave; aye, and worse wrong than these. Yet she, singing upon her road, half lion, half child, is at peace."