The Cap and Bells

By William Butler Yeats 1865–1939
The jester walked in the garden:   
The garden had fallen still;   
He bade his soul rise upward   
And stand on her window-sill.

It rose in a straight blue garment,   
When owls began to call:
It had grown wise-tongued by thinking   
Of a quiet and light footfall;

But the young queen would not listen;   
She rose in her pale night-gown;   
She drew in the heavy casement   
And pushed the latches down.

He bade his heart go to her,
When the owls called out no more;   
In a red and quivering garment   
It sang to her through the door.

It had grown sweet-tongued by dreaming   
Of a flutter of flower-like hair;
But she took up her fan from the table   
And waved it off on the air.

'I have cap and bells,’ he pondered,   
'I will send them to her and die’;   
And when the morning whitened   
He left them where she went by.

She laid them upon her bosom,
Under a cloud of her hair,
And her red lips sang them a love-song   
Till stars grew out of the air.

She opened her door and her window,   
And the heart and the soul came through,   
To her right hand came the red one,   
To her left hand came the blue.

They set up a noise like crickets,   
A chattering wise and sweet,   
And her hair was a folded flower   
And the quiet of love in her feet.

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 Love, Relationships, Infatuation & Crushes, Unrequited Love, Heartache & Loss

Poetic Terms Ballad

 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 Love, Relationships, Infatuation & Crushes, Unrequited Love, Heartache & Loss

POET’S REGION Ireland

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Ballad

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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