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W.B. Yeats (1865–1939). The Wild Swans at Coole. 1919.

40. The Double Vision of Michael Robartes


ON the grey rock of Cashel the mind’s eye

Has called up the cold spirits that are born

When the old moon is vanished from the sky

And the new still hides her horn.

Under blank eyes and fingers never still

The particular is pounded till it is man,

When had I my own will?

Oh, not since life began.

Constrained, arraigned, baffled, bent and unbent

By these wire-jointed jaws and limbs of wood,

Themselves obedient,

Knowing not evil and good;

Obedient to some hidden magical breath.

They do not even feel, so abstract are they,

So dead beyond our death,

Triumph that we obey.


On the grey rock of Cashel I suddenly saw

A Sphinx with woman breast and lion paw,

A Buddha, hand at rest,

Hand lifted up that blest;

And right between these two a girl at play

That it may be had danced her life away,

For now being dead it seemed

That she of dancing dreamed.

Although I saw it all in the mind’s eye

There can be nothing solider till I die;

I saw by the moon’s light

Now at its fifteenth night.

One lashed her tail; her eyes lit by the moon

Gazed upon all things known, all things unknown,

In triumph of intellect

With motionless head erect.

That other’s moonlit eyeballs never moved,

Being fixed on all things loved, all things unloved,

Yet little peace he had

For those that love are sad.

Oh, little did they care who danced between,

And little she by whom her dance was seen

So that she danced. No thought,

Body perfection brought,

For what but eye and ear silence the mind

With the minute particulars of mankind?

Mind moved yet seemed to stop

As ’twere a spinning-top.

In contemplation had those three so wrought

Upon a moment, and so stretched it out

That they, time overthrown,

Were dead yet flesh and bone.


I knew that I had seen, had seen at last

That girl my unremembering nights hold fast

Or else my dreams that fly,

If I should rub an eye,

And yet in flying fling into my meat

A crazy juice that makes the pulses beat

As though I had been undone

By Homer’s Paragon

Who never gave the burning town a thought;

To such a pitch of folly I am brought,

Being caught between the pull

Of the dark moon and the full,

The commonness of thought and images

That have the frenzy of our western seas.

Thereon I made my moan,

And after kissed a stone,

And after that arranged it in a song

Seeing that I, ignorant for so long,

Had been rewarded thus

In Cormac’s ruined house.