September, 1913

September, 1913 was written by W B Yeats shortly before the Easter Rising took place in 1916.

Ireland’s 100 favourite poems
W B Yeats

The poem is about Yeats’ hatred towards the middle classes, and has a resentful and bitter tone throughout. It was voted just outside the top ten of Ireland’s favourite poems by readers of the Irish Times in 1999.

O-Leary_September-1913_Image-copyright-Ireland-Calling

September, 1913 by W B Yeats. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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September, 1913

What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone;
For men were born to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet they were of a different kind
The names that stilled your childish play,
They have gone about the world like wind,
But little time had they to pray
For whom the hangman’s rope was spun,
And what, God help us, could they save:
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave;
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

Yet could we turn the years again,
And call those exiles as they were,
In all their loneliness and pain
You’d cry ‘Some woman’s yellow hair
Has maddened every mother’s son’:
They weighed so lightly what they gave,
But let them be, they’re dead and gone,
They’re with O’Leary in the grave.

September, 1913 by W B Yeats. Image copyright Ireland Calling

W B Yeats

Poems

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Ireland's 100 favourite poems

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