Verse > W.B. Yeats > The Wind Among the Reeds

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939).  The Wind Among the Reeds.  1899.

5. The Host of the Air

O’DRISCOLL drove with a song, 
The wild duck and the drake, 
From the tall and the tufted reeds 
Of the drear Hart Lake. 
And he saw how the reeds grew dark         5
At the coming of night tide, 
And dreamed of the long dim hair 
Of Bridget his bride. 
He heard while he sang and dreamed 
A piper piping away,  10
And never was piping so sad, 
And never was piping so gay. 
And he saw young men and young girls 
Who danced on a level place 
And Bridget his bride among them,  15
With a sad and a gay face. 
The dancers crowded about him, 
And many a sweet thing said, 
And a young man brought him red wine 
And a young girl white bread.  20
But Bridget drew him by the sleeve, 
Away from the merry bands, 
To old men playing at cards 
With a twinkling of ancient hands. 
The bread and the wine had a doom,  25
For these were the host of the air; 
He sat and played in a dream 
Of her long dim hair. 
He played with the merry old men 
And thought not of evil chance,  30
Until one bore Bridget his bride 
Away from the merry dance. 
He bore her away in his arms, 
The handsomest young man there, 
And his neck and his breast and his arms  35
Were drowned in her long dim hair. 
O’Driscoll scattered the cards 
And out of his dream awoke: 
Old men and young men and young girls 
Were gone like a drifting smoke;  40
But he heard high up in the air 
A piper piping away, 
And never was piping so sad, 
And never was piping so gay. 



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