The Fisherman

The Fisherman by W. B. Yeats is a poem about Ireland. Yeats uses a fisherman as an example of what he thought was an ideal man with skills and wisdom.

Ireland’s 100 favourite poems
W B Yeats

The poem was voted as one of Ireland’s favourite 100 poems by readers of the Irish Times in 1999.

The Fisherman by W. B. Yeats, image copyright Ireland Calling

The Fisherman

Although I can see him still—
The freckled man who goes
To a gray place on a hill
In gray Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies—
It’s long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I’d looked in the face
What I had hoped it would be
To write for my own race
And the reality:
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved—
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer—
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelve-month since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face
And gray Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark with froth,
And the down turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream—
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, “Before I am old
I shall have written him one
Poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.”

The Fisherman by W. B. Yeats, image copyright Ireland Calling

W B Yeats

Poems

All images copyright Ireland Calling

Ireland's 100 favourite poems

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