EASTER 1916, by William Butler Yeats


I have met them at close of day   


Coming with vivid faces

From counter or desk among grey   

Eighteenth-century houses.

I have passed with a nod of the head   

Or polite meaningless words,   

Or have lingered awhile and said   

Polite meaningless words,

And thought before I had done   

Of a mocking tale or a gibe   

To please a companion

Around the fire at the club,   

Being certain that they and I   

But lived where motley is worn:   

All changed, changed utterly:   

A terrible beauty is born.

That woman's days were spent   

In ignorant good-will,

Her nights in argument

Until her voice grew shrill.

What voice more sweet than hers   

When, young and beautiful,   

She rode to harriers?

This man had kept a school   

And rode our wingèd horse;   

This other his helper and friend   

Was coming into his force;

He might have won fame in the end,   

So sensitive his nature seemed,   

So daring and sweet his thought.

This other man I had dreamed

A drunken, vainglorious lout.

He had done most bitter wrong

To some who are near my heart,   

Yet I number him in the song;

He, too, has resigned his part

In the casual comedy;

He, too, has been changed in his turn,   

Transformed utterly:

A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone   

Through summer and winter seem   

Enchanted to a stone

To trouble the living stream.

The horse that comes from the road,   

The rider, the birds that range   

From cloud to tumbling cloud,   

Minute by minute they change;   

A shadow of cloud on the stream   

Changes minute by minute;   

A horse-hoof slides on the brim,   

And a horse plashes within it;   

The long-legged moor-hens dive,   

And hens to moor-cocks call;   

Minute by minute they live:   

The stone's in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice

Can make a stone of the heart.   

O when may it suffice?

That is Heaven's part, our part   

To murmur name upon name,   

As a mother names her child   

When sleep at last has come   

On limbs that had run wild.   

What is it but nightfall?

No, no, not night but death;   

Was it needless death after all?

For England may keep faith   

For all that is done and said.   

We know their dream; enough

To know they dreamed and are dead;   

And what if excess of love   

Bewildered them till they died?   

I write it out in a verse—

MacDonagh and MacBride   

And Connolly and Pearse

Now and in time to be,

Wherever green is worn,

Are changed, changed utterly:   

A terrible beauty is born.

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