A month with Yeats: Day Three

November Yeats Challenge was a feeble place-holder title that I’m getting rid of today. Same challenge, different title.

I had pulled out at least a month’s worth of lines from Yeats’ poetry when I saw the photo below on Paul Militaru’s photography blog a couple of days ago. I immediately thought of one of the lines I had selected.

โ€œWith all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,โ€โ€”W.B. Yeats

If you don’t want to be influenced by Paul’s photo, please close your eyes now.

Photo ยฉPaul Militaru


The old ones


They watch us when we are sleeping,

The old ones, when we walk,

The fields and the oak-hung paths.

They are there in the shallow pools

Of morning and evening,

Sunlight and moonlight,

And of all times, the fickle, vacillating dusk,

When time and tide and tomorrows mingle

In the heaving movement of the heavens.

Heavy with dust and distance,

They watch with their hooded eyes

And wait for the inevitable,

Widening crack in the carapace,

The grappling for the thread of faith,

When we too discover

That all things have an end.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

66 thoughts on “A month with Yeats: Day Three”

  1. Powerful poem! Each line hits a punch. One of my favorites: “In the heaving movement of the heavens.” But also ” Heavy with dust and distance.” But also … sigh, I’ll stop here. All the lines make an incredible poem.

      1. It’s more accessible because I only skim the surface. I don’t have Yeats’ genius to go any deeper ๐Ÿ™‚ His writing is so full of symbolism and mysticism, that getting all the allusions requires quite an education. The genius is making something that just feels beautiful even if we don’t altogether understand it.

    1. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been on pain killers for my back (busted it again) since Monday so my brain has been a bit blurry. That’s my excuse for leaving such a feeble title!

      1. Oh–so sorry to hear about your back. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I didn’t think of the title as feeble–I just assumed it was to go along with November NaNo and such. I hope you’re feeling better soon.

      2. The back’s almost better thanks. I wrenched it hard on Sunday afternoon but it’s healing up quickly. I did have NaNo in mind (obviously) when I had the idea of the challenge, I just hadn’t bothered to think of a proper name for it.

  2. I like your comment earlier (to someone else) about Yeatsโ€™ genius symbolism and mysticism…I am so excited about your featuring Yeats as lately the thought of reading his work was popping into my mind and now you are curating an intro (I go to the full poems) and he is certainly inspiring wonderful lines from you ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying dipping into his poetry, Janice. I should have noted down the poems I took the lines from. Some of them are familiar and well-loved lines, but I don’t always know the title of the poem. I’ll add the title in future if I can remember it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Well done Jane.
    You are making it more and more difficult for us poor fellows to follow the old guy Yeats.
    Let’s see what pearl of wisdom I can gather delving deep into the eyes of The Old Ones.

  4. Pingback: worn – Ontheland

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