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Broken Dreams

Broken Dreams by W. B. Yeats is an intriguing poem that explores various issues from politics, the afterlife and love.

Ireland’s 100 favourite poems
W B Yeats

Broken Dreams was published after Yeats had proposed to his lifelong love, Maud Gonne for the last time.

Broken Dreams by W. B. Yeats. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Broken Dreams

There is grey in your hair.
Young men no longer suddenly catch their breath
When you are passing;
But maybe some old gaffer mutters a blessing
Because it was your prayer
Recovered him upon the bed of death.
For your sole sake – that all heart’s ache have known,
And given to others all heart’s ache,
From meagre girlhood’s putting on
Burdensome beauty – for your sole sake
Heaven has put away the stroke of her doom,
So great her portion in that peace you make
By merely walking in a room.
Your beauty can but leave among us
Vague memories, nothing but memories.
A young man when the old men are done talking
Will say to an old man, “Tell me of that lady
The poet stubborn with his passion sang us
When age might well have chilled his blood.’
Vague memories, nothing but memories,
But in the grave all, all, shall be renewed.
The certainty that I shall see that lady
Leaning or standing or walking
In the first loveliness of womanhood,
And with the fervour of my youthful eyes,
Has set me muttering like a fool.
You are more beautiful than any one,
And yet your body had a flaw:
Your small hands were not beautiful,
And I am afraid that you will run
And paddle to the wrist
In that mysterious, always brimming lake
Where those What have obeyed the holy law
paddle and are perfect. Leave unchanged
The hands that I have kissed,
For old sake’s sake.
The last stroke of midnight dies.
All day in the one chair
From dream to dream and rhyme to rhyme I have
In rambling talk with an image of air:
Vague memories, nothing but memories.

Broken Dreams by W. B. Yeats. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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W B Yeats


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Ireland's 100 favourite poems

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