To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing

By William Butler Yeats 1865–1939
Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honor bred, with one
Who were it proved he lies
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbors' eyes;
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.

Source: Poetry (May 1914).

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This poem originally appeared in the May 1914 issue of Poetry magazine

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May 1914
 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 Friends & Enemies, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION Ireland

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Epistle

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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