William Butler Yeats Quotes

William Butler Yeats

A line will take us hours maybe; Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought, our stitching and unstitching has been naught.

A pity beyond all telling is hid in the heart of love.

Accursed who brings to light of day the writings I have cast away.

All empty souls tend toward extreme opinions.

An aged man is but a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick, unless soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing for every tatter in its mortal dress.

An intellectual hatred is the worst.

And say my glory was I had such friends.

Be secret and exult, Because of all things known That is most difficult.

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.

Books are but waste paper unless we spend in action the wisdom we get from thought – asleep. When we are weary of the living, we may repair to the dead, who have nothing of peevishness, pride, or design in their conversation.

But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

But was there ever dog that praised his fleas?

Cast your mind on other days that we in coming days may be still the indomitable Irishry.

Choose your companions from the best; Who draws a bucket with the rest soon topples down the hill.

Come away, O human child: To the waters and the wild with a fairy, hand in hand, For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!

Designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage may be described, I think, as the silent ambassadors on national taste.

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

Every conquering temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing.

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

How far away the stars seem, and how far is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart.

I am of a healthy long lived race, and our minds improve with age.

I am still of opinion that only two topics can be of the least interest to a serious and studious mood – sex and the dead.

I balanced all, brought all to mind, the years to come seemed waste of breath, a waste of breath the years behind, in balance with this life, this death.

I have believed the best of every man. And find that to believe is enough to make a bad man show him at his best, or even a good man swings his lantern higher.

I have known more men destroyed by the desire to have wife and child and to keep them in comfort than I have seen destroyed by drink and harlots.

I heard the old, old, men say ‘all that’s beautiful drifts away, like the waters.’

I know that I shall meet my fate somewhere among the clouds above; those that I fight I do not hate, those that I guard I do not love.

I think it better that in times like these a poet’s mouth be silent, for in truth we have no gift to set a statesman right.

I think you can leave the arts, superior or inferior, to the conscience of mankind.

I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all like an opera.

If suffering brings wisdom, I would wish to be less wise.

In dreams begins responsibility.

Irish poets, learn your trade, sing whatever is well made, scorn the sort now growing up all out of shape from toe to top.

Joy is of the will which labours, which overcomes obstacles, which knows triumph.

Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.

Man can embody truth but he cannot know it.

Nor dread nor hope attend a dying animal; a man awaits his end dreading and hoping all.

Once you attempt legislation upon religious grounds, you open the way for every kind of intolerance and religious persecution.

One should not lose one’s temper unless one is certain of getting more and more angry to the end.

Out of Ireland have we come, great hatred, little room, maimed us at the start. I carry from my mother’s womb a fanatic heart.

People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.

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

Talent perceives differences; genius, unity.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

The creations of a great writer are little more than the moods and passions of his own heart, given surnames and Christian names, and sent to walk the earth.

The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time.

The light of lights looks always on the motive, not the deed, the shadow of shadows on the deed alone.

The only business of the head in the world is to bow a ceaseless obeisance to the heart.

The worst thing about some men is that when they are not drunk they are sober.

The years like great black oxen tread the world, and God, the herdsman goads them on behind, and I am broken by their passing feet.

There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.

Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.

Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.

This melancholy London – I sometimes imagine that the souls of the lost are compelled to walk through its streets perpetually. One feels them passing like a whiff of air.

Those that I fight I do not hate, those that I guard I do not love.

To be born woman is to know – although they do not speak of it at school – women must labor to be beautiful.

Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart. O when may it suffice?

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

We are happy when for everything inside us there is a corresponding something outside us.

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.

When you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.

Why should we honour those that die upon the field of battle? A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.

Wine comes in at the mouth And love comes in at the eye; That’s all we shall know for truth Before we grow old and die.

You know what the Englishman’s idea of compromise is? He says, Some people say there is a God. Some people say there is no God. The truth probably lies somewhere between these two statements.

You that would judge me, do not judge alone this book or that, come to this hallowed place where my friends’ portraits hang and look thereon; Ireland’s history in their lineaments trace; think where man’s glory most begins and ends and say my glory was I had such friends.