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To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing

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

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

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To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing

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