Verse > W.B. Yeats > The Wild Swans at Coole

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

18. The Fisherman

ALTHOUGH I can see him still, 
The freckled man who goes 
To a grey place on a hill 
In grey Connemara clothes 
At dawn to cast his flies,         5
It’s long since I began 
To call up to the eyes 
This wise and simple man. 
All day I’d looked in the face 
What I had hoped ’twould be  10
To write for my own race 
And the reality; 
The living men that I hate, 
The dead man that I loved, 
The craven man in his seat,  15
The insolent unreproved, 
And no knave brought to book 
Who has won a drunken cheer, 
The witty man and his joke 
Aimed at the commonest ear,  20
The clever man who cries 
The catch-cries of the clown, 
The beating down of the wise 
And great Art beaten down. 
Maybe a twelvemonth since  25
Suddenly I began, 
In scorn of this audience, 
Imagining a man 
And his sun-freckled face, 
And grey Connemara cloth,  30
Climbing up to a place 
Where stone is dark under froth, 
And the down turn of his wrist 
When the flies drop in the stream: 
A man who does not exist,  35
A man who is but a dream; 
And cried, ‘Before I am old 
I shall have written him one 
Poem maybe as cold 
And passionate as the dawn.’  40



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