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 winged 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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