MythologiesMythologies by William Butler Yeats, the 1969 softcover edition from Collier Books, is part of the…View Post



Mythologies by William Butler Yeats, the 1969 softcover edition from Collier Books, is part of the…

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William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)


William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)

(via hermeticlibrary)

And from the woods rushed out a band
Of men and ladies, hand in hand,
And singing, singing all together;
Their brows were white as fragrant milk,
Their cloaks made out of yellow silk,
And trimmed with many a crimson feather;
And when they saw the cloak I wore
Was dim with mire of a mortal shore,
They fingered it and gazed on me
And laughed like murmurs of the sea;

"Spiritism, whether of folk-lore or of the séance room, the visions of Swedenborg, and the speculation of the Platonists and Japanese plays, will have it that we may see at certain roads and in certain houses old murders acted over again, and in certain fields dead huntsmen riding with horse and hound, or ancient armies fighting above bones or ashes. We carry to Anima Mundi our memory, and that memory is for a time our external world; and all passionate moments recur again and again, for passion desires its own recurrence more than any event, and whatever there is of corresponding complacency or remorse is our beginning of judgment; nor do we remember only the events of life, for thoughts bred of longing and of fear, all those parasitic vegetables that have slipped through our fingers, come again like a rope’s end to smite us upon the face; and as Cornelius Agrippa writes: ‘We may dream ourselves to be consumed in flame and persecuted by daemons,’ and certain spirits have complained that they would be hard put to it to arouse those who died, believing they could not awake till a trumpet shrilled. A ghost in a Japanese play is set afire by a fantastic scruple, and though a Buddhist priest explains that the fire would go out of itself if the ghost but ceased to believe in it, it cannot cease to believe. Cornelius Agrippa called such dreaming souls hobgoblins, and when Hamlet refused the bare bodkin because of what dreams may come, it was from no mere literary fancy. The soul can indeed, it appears, change these objects built about us by the memory, as it may change its shape; but the greater the change, the greater the effort and the sooner the return to the habitual images. Doubtless in either case the effort is often beyond its power. Years ago I was present when a woman consulted Madame Blavatsky for a friend who saw her newly-dead husband nightly as a decaying corpse and smelt the odour of the grave. When he was dying, said Madame Blavatsky, he thought the grave the end, and now that he is dead cannot throw off that imagination. A Brahmin once told an actress friend of mine that he disliked acting, because if a man died playing Hamlet, he would be Hamlet in eternity. Yet after a time the soul partly frees itself and becomes ‘the shape changer’ of the legends, and can cast, like the mediaeval magician, what illusions it would. There is an Irish countryman in one of Lady Gregory’s books who had eaten with a stranger on the road, and some while later vomited, to discover he had but eaten chopped up grass. One thinks, too, of the spirits that show themselves in the images of wild creatures.”

(Source: gutenberg.org)


The Courtship of Ferb. Published by David Nutt, (eldest son of Alfred Nutt) at The Sign of the Phoenix, London 1902.


The Courtship of Ferb. Published by David Nutt, (eldest son of Alfred Nutt) at The Sign of the Phoenix, London 1902.

0 plays



A MAN came slowly from the setting sun,
To Emer, raddling raiment in her dun,
And said, ‘I am that swineherd whom you bid
Go watch the road between the wood and tide,
But now I have no need to watch it more.’

Then Emer cast the web upon the floor,
And raising arms all raddled with the dye,
Parted her lips with a loud sudden cry.

That swineherd stared upon her face and said,
‘No man alive, no man among the dead,
Has won the gold his cars of battle bring.’

‘But if your master comes home triumphing
Why must you blench and shake from foot to crown?’

Thereon he shook the more and cast him down
Upon the web-heaped floor, and cried his word:
‘With him is one sweet-throated like a bird.’

‘You dare me to my face,’ and thereupon
She smote with raddled fist, and where her son
Herded the cattle came with stumbling feet,
And cried with angry voice, ‘It is not meet
To idle life away, a common herd.’

‘I have long waited, mother, for that word:
But wherefore now?’

‘There is a man to die;
You have the heaviest arm under the sky.’

‘Whether under its daylight or its stars
My father stands amid his battle-cars.’

‘But you have grown to be the taller man.’

‘Yet somewhere under starlight or the sun
My father stands.’

‘Aged, worn out with wars
On foot. on horseback or in battle-cars.’

‘I only ask what way my journey lies,
For He who made you bitter made you wise.’

‘The Red Branch camp in a great company
Between wood’s rim and the horses of the sea.
Go there, and light a camp-fire at wood’s rim;
But tell your name and lineage to him
Whose blade compels, and wait till they have found
Some feasting man that the same oath has bound.’

Among those feasting men Cuchulain dwelt,
And his young sweetheart close beside him knelt,
Stared on the mournful wonder of his eyes,
Even as Spring upon the ancient skies,
And pondered on the glory of his days;
And all around the harp-string told his praise,
And Conchubar, the Red Branch king of kings,
With his own fingers touched the brazen strings.

At last Cuchulain spake, ‘Some man has made
His evening fire amid the leafy shade.
I have often heard him singing to and fro,
I have often heard the sweet sound of his bow.
Seek out what man he is.’

One went and came.
‘He bade me let all know he gives his name
At the sword-point, and waits till we have found
Some feasting man that the same oath has bound.’

Cuchulain cried, ‘I am the only man
Of all this host so bound from childhood on.

After short fighting in the leafy shade,
He spake to the young man, ‘Is there no maid
Who loves you, no white arms to wrap you round,
Or do you long for the dim sleepy ground,
That you have come and dared me to my face?’

‘The dooms of men are in God’s hidden place,’

‘Your head a while seemed like a woman’s head
That I loved once.’

Again the fighting sped,
But now the war-rage in Cuchulain woke,
And through that new blade’s guard the old blade
And pierced him.

‘Speak before your breath is done.’

‘Cuchulain I, mighty Cuchulain’s son.’

‘I put you from your pain. I can no more.’

While day its burden on to evening bore,
With head bowed on his knees Cuchulain stayed;
Then Conchubar sent that sweet-throated maid,
And she, to win him, his grey hair caressed;
In vain her arms, in vain her soft white breast.
Then Conchubar, the subtlest of all men,
Ranking his Druids round him ten by ten,
Spake thus: ‘Cuchulain will dwell there and brood
For three days more in dreadful quietude,
And then arise, and raving slay us all.
Chaunt in his ear delusions magical,
That he may fight the horses of the sea.’
The Druids took them to their mystery,
And chaunted for three days.

Cuchulain stirred,
Stared on the horses of the sea, and heard
The cars of battle and his own name cried;
And fought with the invulnerable tide.

(Source: )

19 plays



Fergus. This whole day have I followed in the rocks,
And you have changed and flowed from shape to shape,
First as a raven on whose ancient wings
Scarcely a feather lingered, then you seemed
A weasel moving on from stone to stone,
And now at last you wear a human shape,
A thin grey man half lost in gathering night.

Druid. What would you, king of the proud Red Branch kings?

Fergus. This would I Say, most wise of living souls:
Young subtle Conchubar sat close by me
When I gave judgment, and his words were wise,
And what to me was burden without end,
To him seemed easy, So I laid the crown
Upon his head to cast away my sorrow.

Druid. What would you, king of the proud Red Branch kings?

Fergus. A king and proud! and that is my despair.
I feast amid my people on the hill,
And pace the woods, and drive my chariot-wheels
In the white border of the murmuring sea;
And still I feel the crown upon my head.

Druid. What would you, Fergus?

Fergus.: Be no more a king
But learn the dreaming wisdom that is yours.

Druid.: Look on my thin grey hair and hollow cheeks
And on these hands that may not lift the sword,
This body trembling like a wind-blown reed.
No woman’s loved me, no man sought my help.

Fergus.: A king is but a foolish labourer
Who wastes his blood to be another’s dream.

Druid.: Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams;
Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round.

Fergus.: I See my life go drifting like a river
From change to change; I have been many things —
A green drop in the surge, a gleam of light
Upon a sword, a fir-tree on a hill,
An old slave grinding at a heavy quern,
A king sitting upon a chair of gold —
And all these things were wonderful and great;
But now I have grown nothing, knowing all.
Ah! Druid, Druid, how great webs of sorrow
Lay hidden in the small slate-coloured thing!

Fergus mac Roich
- a man’s man.

(Source: )

feeding the ghost of William Butler Yeats.