Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

William Butler Yeats

Irish Poet, Playwright

"Go on, live in your poultry-yard. Scratch straw and cluck and cackle at everything that you take for a fox."

"Go gather by the humming sea."

"Go there, and light a camp-fire at wood?s rim."

"God spreads the heavens above us like great wings and gives a little round of deeds and days, and then come the wrecked angels and set snares, and bait them with light hopes and heavy dreams, until the heart is puffed with pride and goes Half shuddering and half joyous from God's peace; and it was some wrecked angel, blind with tears, who flattered Edane's heart with merry words. Come, faeries, take me out of this dull house! Let me have all the freedom I have lost; work when I will and idle when I will! Faeries, come take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind, run on the top of the dishevelled tide, and dance upon the mountains like a flame. I would take the world and break it into pieces in my hands to see you smile watching it crumble away. Once a fly dancing in a beam of the sun, or the light wind blowing out of the dawn, could fill your heart with dreams none other knew, but now the indissoluble sacrament has mixed your heart that was most proud and cold with my warm heart for ever; the sun and moon must fade and heaven be rolled up like a scroll but your white spirit still walk by my spirit. When winter sleep is abroad my hair grows thin, my feet unsteady. When the leaves awaken, my mother carries me in her golden arms; I'll soon put on my womanhood and marry the spirits of wood and water, but who can tell when I was born for the first time? The wind blows out of the gates of the day, the wind blows over the lonely of heart, and the lonely of heart is withered away; while the faeries dance in a place apart, shaking their milk-white feet in a ring, tossing their milk-white arms in the air; for they hear the wind laugh and murmur and sing of a land where even the old are fair, and even the wise are merry of tongue; but I heard a reed of Coolaney say--When the wind has laughed and murmured and sung, the lonely of heart is withered away."

"God guard me from those thoughts men think in the mind alone; he that sings a lasting song thinks in a marrow-bone."

"Go to the guards of the heavenly fold."

"Go watch the road between the wood and tide."

"Goes to the barbarous clangour of a gong."

"Great literature has always been written in a like spirit, and is, indeed, the Forgiveness of Sin, and when we find it becoming the Accusation of Sin, as in George Eliot, who plucks her Tito in pieces with as much assurance as if he had been clockwork, literature has begun to change into something else."

"Grant me an old man?s frenzy, myself must I remake till I am Timon and Lear or that William Blake Who beat upon the wall till Truth obeyed his call."

"Grey Truth is now her painted toy."

"Grounds where plum and cabbage grew."

"Had blotted out man's image and his cry."

"Had I not found content among the shows."

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

"Had they but courage equal to desire."

"Had there been no Renaissance and no Italian influence to bring in the stories of other lands English history would, it may be, have become as important to the English imagination as the Greek Myths to the Greek imagination; and many plays by many poets would have woven it into a single story whose contours, vast as those of Greek myth, would have made living men and women seem like swallows building their nests under the architrave of some Temple of the Giants."

"Hands, do what you?re bid: bring the balloon of the mind that bellies and drags in the wind into its narrow shed."

"Has cloven and rent their hearts in twain."

"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing."

"Has no one said those daring."

"Have changed their silk for sack."

"Has won the gold his cars of battle bring."

"Hate on and love through un-repining hours."

"Have you not heard that our hearts are old."

"Have you made greatness your companion, although it be for children that you sigh: these are the clouds about the fallen sun, the majesty that shuts his burning eye."

"Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways."

"He bade me let all know he gives his name."

"He had many strange sights to keep him cheerful or to make him sad. I asked him had he ever seen the faeries, and got the reply, 'Am I not annoyed with them?' I asked too if he had ever seen the banshee. 'I have seen it,' he said, 'down there by the water, batting the river with its hands.'"

"He knows love through infinite pity, unspeakable trust, unending sympathy; and if ignobly through vehement."

"He made the world to be a grassy road."

"Hear the truth in silence."

"He thought the same and lived by rule."

"He must grow a famous man."

"He only can create the greatest imaginable beauty who has endured all imaginable pangs, for only when we have seen and foreseen what we dread shall we be rewarded by that dazzling unforeseen wing-footed wanderer."

"Heart-mysteries there, and yet when all is said it was the dream itself enchanted me."

"Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned by those who are not entirely beautiful."

"He that sings a lasting song thinks in a marrowbone."

"He spake to the young man, ?Is there no maid??"

"Hearts are not to be had as a gift, hearts are to be earned."

"Hearts with one purpose alone through summer and winter seem enchanted to a stone to trouble the living stream."

"Heaven blazing into the head: Tragedy wrought to its uttermost. Though Hamlet rambles and Lear rages and all the drop-scenes drop at once upon a hundred thousand stages It cannot grow by an inch or an ounce."

"Her Triumph - I did the dragon's will until you came because I had fancied love a casual improvisation, or a settled game that followed if I let the kerchief fall: those deeds were best that gave the minute wings and heavenly music if they gave it wit; and then you stood among the dragon-rings. I mocked, being crazy, but you mastered it and broke the chain and set my ankles free, Saint George or else a pagan Perseus; and now we stare astonished at the sea, and a miraculous strange bird shrieks at us."

"His chosen comrades thought at school."

"His shouting days with mirth were crowned;"

"Hid his face amid a crowd of stars."

"Herded the cattle came with stumbling feet."

"Homer is my example and his un-christened heart."

"His evening fire amid the leafy shade."

"Hides in passions not of his essence if he would commune with a mortal heart. So that if a man love nobly."