To the Rose upon the Rood of Time

By William Butler Yeats 1865–1939
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!   
Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:   
Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;   
The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
And thine own sadness, whereof stars, grown old   
In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,   
Sing in their high and lonely melody.   
Come near, that no more blinded by man's fate,
I find under the boughs of love and hate,
In all poor foolish things that live a day,   
Eternal beauty wandering on her way.

Come near, come near, come near—Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
Lest I no more hear common things that crave;   
The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,   
The field-mouse running by me in the grass,   
And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;   
But seek alone to hear the strange things said
By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,   
And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know.   
Come near; I would, before my time to go,   
Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:   
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.

Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

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Poet William Butler Yeats 1865–1939

POET’S REGION Ireland

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Time & Brevity, Living

 William Butler Yeats

Biography

William Butler Yeats is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. He belonged to the Protestant, Anglo-Irish minority that had controlled the economic, political, social, and cultural life of Ireland since at least the end of the seventeenth century. Most members of this minority considered themselves English people who merely happened to have been born in Ireland, but Yeats was staunch in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Living

POET’S REGION Ireland

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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