William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, he helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served as an Irish Senator for two terms.  In 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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There are no strangers here, only friends you haven't yet met.

Designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage may be described, I think, as the silent ambassadors on national taste.

I know that I shall meet my fate somewhere among the clouds above, those that I fight I do not hate, those that I guard I do not love.

This melancholy London - I sometimes imagine that the souls of the lost are compelled to walk through its streets perpetually. One feels them passing like a whiff of air.

I think you can leave the arts superior or inferior to the conscience of mankind.

The worst thing about some men is that when they are not drunk they are sober.

Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.

I heard the old old men say 'all that's beautiful drifts away like the waters.'

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

I am of a healthy long lived race, and our minds improve with age.

Those that I fight I do not hate, those that I guard I do not love.

How far away the stars seem and how far is our first kiss and ah how old my heart.

Come Fairies take me out of this dull world for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!

Being Irish he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.

Be secret and exult Because of all things known That is most difficult.

I balanced all brought all to mind the years to come seemed waste of breath a waste of breath the years behind in balance with this life this death.

Once you attempt legislation upon religious grounds you open the way for every kind of intolerance and religious persecution.

But was there ever dog that praised his fleas?

The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time.

Out of Ireland have we come great hatred little room maimed us at the start. I carry from my mother's womb a fanatic heart.

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

Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.

We are happy when for everything inside us there is a corresponding something outside us.

When you are old and gray and full of sleep and nodding by the fire take down this book and slowly read and dream of the soft look your eyes had once and of their shadows deep.

Accursed who brings to light of day the writings I have cast away.

Cast your mind on other days that we in coming days may be still the indomitable Irishry.

Wine comes in at the mouth And love comes in at the eye, That's all we shall know for truth Before we grow old and die.

I think it better that in times like these a poet's mouth be silent, for in truth we have no gift to set a statesman right.

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.

Books are but waste paper unless we spend in action the wisdom we get from thought - asleep. When we are weary of the living we may repair to the dead who have nothing of peevishness pride or design in their conversation.

We make out of the quarrel with others rhetoric but of the quarrel with ourselves poetry.

Take if you must this little bag of dreams Unloose the cord and they will wrap you round.

Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.

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.

An aged man is but a paltry thing a tattered coat upon a stick unless soul clap its hands and sing and louder sing for every tatter in its mortal dress.

I have known more men destroyed by the desire to have wife and child and to keep them in comfort than I have seen destroyed by drink and harlots.

And say my glory was I had such friends.

The only business of the head in the world is to bow a ceaseless obeisance to the heart.

Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart. O when may it suffice?

I have believed the best of every man. And find that to believe is enough to make a bad man show him at his best or even a good man swings his lantern higher.

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Think where man's glory most begins and ends and say my glory was I had such friends.

All empty souls tend toward extreme opinions.

The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

An intellectual hatred is the worst.

The light of lights looks always on the motive not the deed the shadow of shadows on the deed alone.

Irish poets learn your trade sing whatever is well made scorn the sort now growing up all out of shape from toe to top.

A line will take us hours maybe, Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought our stitching and unstitching has been naught.

The years like great black oxen tread the world and God the herdsman goads them on behind and I am broken by their passing feet.

You that would judge me do not judge alone this book or that come to this hallowed place where my friends' portraits hang and look thereon, Ireland's history in their lineaments trace, think where man's glory most begins and ends and say my glory was I had such friends.

Why should we honour those that die upon the field of battle? A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.

I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all like an opera.

The creations of a great writer are little more than the moods and passions of his own heart given surnames and Christian names and sent to walk the earth.

If suffering brings wisdom I would wish to be less wise.

I am still of opinion that only two topics can be of the least interest to a serious and studious mood - sex and the dead.

In dreams begins responsibility.

Man can embody truth but he cannot know it.

But I being poor have only my dreams, I have spread my dreams under your feet, Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

You know what the Englishman's idea of compromise is? He says Some people say there is a God. Some people say there is no God. The truth probably lies somewhere between these two statements.

People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.

Nor dread nor hope attend a dying animal, a man awaits his end dreading and hoping all.

Joy is of the will which labours which overcomes obstacles which knows triumph.

Choose your companions from the best, Who draws a bucket with the rest soon topples down the hill.

A pity beyond all telling is hid in the heart of love.

One should not lose one's temper unless one is certain of getting more and more angry to the end.

Come away O human child: To the waters and the wild with a fairy hand in hand, For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

To be born woman is to know - although they do not speak of it at school - women must labor to be beautiful.