Poem – A Dialogue Of Self And Soul – William Butler Yeats

i{My Soul} I summon to the winding ancient stair; 

Set all your mind upon the steep ascent, 

Upon the broken, crumbling battlement, 

Upon the breathless starlit air, 

‘Upon the star that marks the hidden pole; 

Fix every wandering thought upon 

That quarter where all thought is done: 

Who can distinguish darkness from the soul 

i{My Self}. The consecretes blade upon my knees 

Is Sato’s ancient blade, still as it was, 

Still razor-keen, still like a looking-glass 

Unspotted by the centuries; 

That flowering, silken, old embroidery, torn 

From some court-lady’s dress and round 

The wodden scabbard bound and wound 

Can, tattered, still protect, faded adorn 

i{My Soul.} Why should the imagination of a man 

Long past his prime remember things that are 

Emblematical of love and war? 

Think of ancestral night that can, 

If but imagination scorn the earth 

And interllect is wandering 

To this and that and t’other thing, 

Deliver from the crime of death and birth. 

i{My self.} Montashigi, third of his family, fashioned it 

Five hundred years ago, about it lie 

Flowers from I know not what embroidery — 

Heart’s purple — and all these I set 

For emblems of the day against the tower 

Emblematical of the night, 

And claim as by a soldier’s right 

A charter to commit the crime once more. 

i{My Soul.} Such fullness in that quarter overflows 

And falls into the basin of the mind 

That man is stricken deaf and dumb and blind, 

For intellect no longer knows 

i{Is} from the i{Ought,} or i{knower} from the i{Known — } 

That is to say, ascends to Heaven; 

Only the dead can be forgiven; 

But when I think of that my tongue’s a stone. 

i{My Self.} A living man is blind and drinks his drop. 

What matter if the ditches are impure? 

What matter if I live it all once more? 

Endure that toil of growing up; 

The ignominy of boyhood; the distress 

Of boyhood changing into man; 

The unfinished man and his pain 

Brought face to face with his own clumsiness; 

The finished man among his enemies? — 

How in the name of Heaven can he escape 

That defiling and disfigured shape 

The mirror of malicious eyes 

Casts upon his eyes until at last 

He thinks that shape must be his shape? 

And what’s the good of an escape 

If honour find him in the wintry blast? 

I am content to live it all again 

And yet again, if it be life to pitch 

Into the frog-spawn of a blind man’s ditch, 

A blind man battering blind men; 

Or into that most fecund ditch of all, 

The folly that man does 

Or must suffer, if he woos 

A proud woman not kindred of his soul. 

I am content to follow to its source 

Every event in action or in thought; 

Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot! 

When such as I cast out remorse 

So great a sweetness flows into the breast 

We must laugh and we must sing, 

We are blest by everything, 

Everything we look upon is blest.

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