English Literature » William Butler Yeats » From A Full Moon In March

From A Full Moon In March by

UNDER the Great Comedian’s tomb the crowd.

A bundle of tempestuous cloud is blown

About the sky; where that is clear of cloud

Brightness remains; a brighter star shoots down;

What shudders run through all that animal blood?

What is this sacrifice? Can someone there

Recall the Cretan barb that pierced a star?

Rich foliage that the starlight glittered through,

A frenzied crowd, and where the branches sprang

A beautiful seated boy; a sacred bow;

A woman, and an arrow on a string;

A pierced boy, image of a star laid low.

That woman, the Great Mother imaging,

Cut out his heart. Some master of design

Stamped boy and tree upon Sicilian coin.

An age is the reversal of an age:

When strangers murdered Emmet, Fitzgerald, Tone,

We lived like men that watch a painted stage.

What matter for the scene, the scene once gone:

It had not touched our lives. But popular rage,

Hysterica passion dragged this quarry down.

None shared our guilt; nor did we play a part

Upon a painted stage when we devoured his heart.

Come, fix upon me that accusing eye.

I thirst for accusation. All that was sung.

All that was said in Ireland is a lie

Bred out of the contagion of the throng,

Saving the rhyme rats hear before they die.

Leave nothing but the nothings that belong

To this bare soul, let all men judge that can

Whether it be an animal or a man.

The rest I pass, one sentence I unsay.

Had de Valera eaten parnell’s heart

No loose-lipped demagogue had won the day.

No civil rancour torn the land apart.

Had Cosgrave eaten parnell’s heart, the land’s

Imagination had been satisfied,

Or lacking that, government in such hands.

O’Higgins its sole statesman had not died.

Had even O’Duffy — but I name no more —

Their school a crowd, his master solitude;

Through Jonathan Swift’s Clark grove he passed, and there

plucked bitter wisdom that enriched his blood.

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