Wisdom (Poem by William Butler Yeats)

Old Poem



Wisdom
By William Butler Yeats


The true faith discovered was
When painted panel, statuary.
Glass-mosaic, window-glass,
Amended what was told awry
By some peasant gospeller;
Swept the Sawdust from the floor
Of that working-carpenter.
Miracle had its playtime where
In damask clothed and on a seat
Chryselephantine, cedar-boarded,
His majestic Mother sat
Stitching at a purple hoarded
That He might be nobly breeched
In starry towers of Babylon
Noah’s freshet never reached.
King Abundance got Him on
Innocence; and Wisdom He.
That cognomen sounded best
Considering what wild infancy
Drove horror from His Mother’s breast.

The Girl. I rage at my own image in the glass
    That’s so unlike myself that when you praise it
    It is as though you praised another, or even
    Mocked me with praise of my mere opposite;
    And when I wake towards morn I dread myself,
    For the heart cries that what deception wins
    Cruelty must keep; therefore he warned and go
    If you have seen that image and not the woman.

The Hero. I have raged at my own strength because you have loved it.

The Girl. If you are no more strength than I am beauty
    I had better find a convent and turn nun;
    A man at least has all men’s reverence
    And needs no cruelty.

The Hero. I have heard one say
    That men have reverence for th eir holiness
    And not themselves.

The Girl. Say on and say
    That only God has loved us for ourselves,
    But what care I that long for a man’s love?

The Fool by the Roadside When all works that have
    From cradle run to grave
    From grave to cradle run instead;
    When thoughts that a fool
    Has wound upon a spool
    Are but loose thread, are but loose thread;

    When cradle and spool are past
    And I mere shade at last
    Coagulate of stuff
    Transparent like the wind,
    I think that I may find
    A faithful love, a faithful love.

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