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Poem by William Butler Yeats
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 ranged In rambling talk with an image of air: Vague memories, nothing but memories.
William Butler Yeats
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