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(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939 / County Dublin / Ireland)

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A Bronze Head

HERE at right of the entrance this bronze head,
Human, superhuman, a bird's round eye,
Everything else withered and mummy-dead.
What great tomb-haunter sweeps the distant sky
(Something may linger there though all else die;)
And finds there nothing to make its tetror less
i{Hysterica passio} of its own emptiness?

No dark tomb-haunter once; her form all full
As though with magnanimity of light,
Yet a most gentle woman; who can tell
Which of her forms has shown her substance right?
Or maybe substance can be composite,
profound McTaggart thought so, and in a breath
A mouthful held the extreme of life and death.

But even at the starting-post, all sleek and new,
I saw the wildness in her and I thought
A vision of terror that it must live through
Had shattered her soul. Propinquity had brought
Imagiation to that pitch where it casts out
All that is not itself: I had grown wild
And wandered murmuring everywhere, 'My child, my
child! '

Or else I thought her supernatural;
As though a sterner eye looked through her eye
On this foul world in its decline and fall;
On gangling stocks grown great, great stocks run dry,
Ancestral pearls all pitched into a sty,
Heroic reverie mocked by clown and knave,
And wondered what was left for massacre to save.

Submitted: Tuesday, May 15, 2001


Read poems about / on: child, woman, dark, sky, death, light, world, children, running, women

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Comments about this poem (A Last Confession by William Butler Yeats )

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  • Dr.subhendu Kar (11/13/2011 9:02:00 AM)

    brilliance burns in metaphors........what was left for massacre to save.....

    12 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Raymond Dotterer (6/30/2009 11:07:00 AM)

    One of Yeats weaker poems in my opinion.

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