Yeats Love Poetry changed significantly at the turn of the century.

Welcome to my concluding page on Yeats Love Poetry.

Here we shall have a look at my last selection of love poetry from the Irish literary genius, W.B. Yeats.

On this page we shall concentrate mainly on some of the last Love Poetry Yeats wrote, from "The Winding Stairs and other Poems" published in 1933, but before we set-off, here are two poems from an earlier period of Yeats Love poetry in 1899 from "Wind Among The Reeds" which I find irresistable.


When the flaming lute-thronged angelic door is wide;

When an immortal passion breathes in mortal clay;

Our hearts endure the scourge, the plaited thorns, the way

Crowded with bitter faces, the wounds in palm and side,

The vinegar-heavy sponge, the flowers by Kedron stream;

We will bend down and loosen our hair over you,

That it may drop faint perfume, and be heavy with dew,

Lilies of death-pale hope, roses of passionate dream.


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.

These are two sublime examples of how Yeats Love Poetry transcend the sometime banality of the average love poetry.

Let us now resume our earlier objective and look at some further examples of Yeats Love Poetry, after that brief digression:

Our first two choices from this period of Yeats love poetry are "A Man Young and Old I. First Love" from The Tower, published in 1928 while "The Lovers Song" is from New Poems (1938).


Though nurtured like the sailing moon

In beauty's murderous brood,

She walked awhile and blushed awhile

And on my pathway stood

Until I thought her body bore

A heart of flesh and blood.

But since I laid a hand thereon

And found a heart of stone

I have attempted many things

And not a thing is done,

For every hand is lunatic

That travels on the moon.

She smiled and that transfigured me

And left me but a lout,

Maundering here, and maundering there,

Emptier of thought

Than the heavenly circuit of its stars

When the moon sails out.


Bird sighs for the air,

Thought for I know not where,

For the womb the seed sighs.

Now sinks the same rest

On mind, on nest,

On straining thighs.

There is a ten year interval between those two examples of Yeats Love Poetry. Let us see what ensued in between:


Beloved, may your sleep be sound

That have found it where you fed.

What were all the world's alarms

To mighty Paris when he found

Sleep upon a golden bed

That first dawn in Helen's arms

Sleep, beloved, such a sleep

As did that wild Tristram know

When, the potion's work being done,

Roe could run or doe could leap

Under oak and beechen bough,

Roe could leap or doe could run;

Such a sleep and sound as fell

Upon Eurotas' grassy bank

When the holy bird, that there

Accomplished his predestined will,

From the limbs of Leda sank

But not from her protecting care.

Lullaby is a great example of later Yeats Love Poetry. This is another one:


That lover of a night

Came when he would,

Went in the dawning light

Whether I would or no;

Men come, men go;

All things remain in God.

Banners choke the sky;

Men-at-arms tread;

Armoured horses neigh

Where the great battle was

In the narrow pass:

All things remain in God.

Before their eyes a house

That from childhood stood

Uninhabited, ruinous,

Suddenly lit up

From door to top:

All things remain in God.

I had wild Jack for a lover;

Though like a road

That men pass over

My body makes no moan

But sings on:

All things remain in God.


`O cruel Death, give three things back,'

Sang a bone upon the shore;

`A child found all a child can lack,

Whether of pleasure or of rest,

Upon the abundance of my breast':

A bone wave-whitened and dried in the wind.

`Three dear things that women know,'

Sang a bone upon the shore;

`A man but if I held him so

When my body was alive

Found all the pleasure that life gave':

A bone wave-whitened and dried in the wind.

`The third thing that I think of yet,'

Sang a bone upon the shore;

`Is that morning when I met

Face to face my rightful man

And did after stretch and yawn':

A bone wave-whitened and dried in the wind.


He. Dear, I must be gone

While night Shuts the eyes

Of the household spies;

That song announces dawn.

She. No, night's bird and love's

Bids all true lovers rest,

While his loud song reproves

The murderous stealth of day.

He. Daylight already flies

From mountain crest to crest

She. That light is from the moon.

He. That bird...

She. Let him sing on,

I offer to love's play

My dark declivities.


Old fathers, great-grandfathers,

Rise as kindred should.

If ever lover's loneliness

Came where you stood,

Pray that Heaven protect us

That protect your blood.

The mountain throws a shadow,

Thin is the moon's horn;

What did we remember

Under the ragged thorn?

Dread has followed longing,

And our hearts are torn.


'Love is all


That cannot take the whole

Body and soul';

And that is what Jane said.

'Take the sour

If you take me

I can scoff and lour

And scold for an hour.'

"That's certainly the case,' said he.

'Naked I lay,

The grass my bed;

Naked and hidden away,

That black day';

And that is what Jane said.

'What can be shown?

What true love be?

All could be known or shown

If Time were but gone.'

'That's certainly the case,' said he.

All these examples of the genre, are classic Yeats Love Poetry. They illustrate the poetic genius of W.B. Yeats, and the reason Yeats Love Poetry is so popular.


I found that ivory image there

Dancing with her chosen youth,

But when he wound her coal-black hair

As though to strangle her, no scream

Or bodily movement did I dare,

Eyes under eyelids did so gleam;

Love is like the lion's tooth.

When She, and though some said she played

I said that she had danced heart's truth,

Drew a knife to strike him dead,

I could but leave him to his fate;

For no matter what is said

They had all that had their hate;

Love is like the lion's tooth.

Did he die or did she die?

Seemed to die or died they both?

God be with the times when I

Cared not a thraneen for what chanced

So that I had the limbs to try

Such a dance as there was danced -

Love is like the lion's tooth.


I know, although when looks meet

I tremble to the bone,

The more I leave the door unlatched

The sooner love is gone,

For love is but a skein unwound

Between the dark and dawn.

A lonely ghost the ghost is

That to God shall come;

I - love's skein upon the ground,

My body in the tomb -

Shall leap into the light lost

In my mother's womb.

But were I left to lie alone

In an empty bed,

The skein so bound us ghost to ghost

When he turned his head passing on the road that night,

Mine must walk when dead.

By way of a fitting finale to my page on Yeats Love Poetry, I find this poem an apt epitaph for the great man. Its taken from the 6th and last part of "Under Ben Bulben" written in 1938, the penultimate year of the great poet's death. Its a shining example of how Yeats Love Poetry had become quite transcendental in quality.

This is Yeats Love Poetry at its finest, at the curtain call of his career. We see clearly how far he had come from his earlier pre-raphaelite stage, which is by no means a criticism of those worthy efforts, but only an acknowledgment of the dizzying heights he finally attained


Under bare Ben Bulben's head

In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.

An ancestor was rector there

Long years ago, a church stands near,

By the road an ancient cross.

No marble, no conventional phrase;

On limestone quarried near the spot

By his command these words are cut:

Cast a cold eye

On life, on death.

Horseman, pass by

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