We sat together at one summer's end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, "A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world."
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake
There's many a one shall find out all heartache
On finding that her voice is sweet and low
Replied, "To be born woman is to know—
Although they do not talk of it at school—
That we must labor to be beautiful."
I said, "It's certain there is no fine thing
Since Adam's fall but needs much laboring.
There have been lovers who thought love should be
So much compounded of high courtesy
That they would sigh and quote with learned looks
Precedents out of beautiful old books;
Yet now it seems an idle trade enough."
We sat grown quiet at the name of love;
We saw the last embers of daylight die,
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time's waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.
I had a thought for no one's but your ears:
That you were beautiful, and that I strove
To love you in the old high way of love;'
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we'd grown
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.
1. you, Maud Gonne (gun), the Irish revolutionary Yeats loved and made the subject of many early poems. Her portrait appears on page 551. 2. marrow-bones, knees. 3. the old high way of love, medieval and renaissance ideals of love and courtesy, with all the elaborate conventions accompanying them that governed aristocratic sexuality.
The Frog Prince
I am a frog
I live under a spell
I live at the bottom
Of a green well
And here I must wait
Until a maiden places me
On her royal pillow
And kisses me
In her father's palace.
The story is familiar
Everybody knows it well
But do other enchanted people feel as nervous
As I do? The stories do not tell,
Ask if they will be happier
When the changes come,
As already they are fairly happy
In a frog's doom?
I have been a frog now
For a hundred years
And in all this time
I have not shed many tears.
I am happy, I like the life,
Can swim for many a mile
(When I have hopped to the river)
And am for ever agile.
And the quietness,
Yes, I like to be quiet
I am habituated
To a quiet life,
But always when I think these thoughts
As I sit in my well
Another thought comes to me and says:
It is part of the spell
To be happy
To work up contentment
To make much of being a frog
To fear disenchantment
Says, It will be heavenly
To be set free
Cries, Heavenly the girl who disenchants
And the royal times, heavenly,
And I think it will be.
Come then, royal girl and royal times,
I can be happy until you come
But I cannot be heavenly,
Only disenchanted people
Can be heavenly.