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

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         5
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,  10
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,  15
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;  20
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  25
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,  30
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  35
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,  40
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  45
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  50
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  55
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,  60
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  65
Seeing that I, ignorant for so long, 
Had been rewarded thus 
In Cormac’s ruined house. 



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