Poem – A Bronze Head – William Butler Yeats

HERE at right of the entrance this bronze head, 

Human, superhuman, a bird’s round eye, 

Everything else withered and mummy-dead. 

What great tomb-haunter sweeps the distant sky 

(Something may linger there though all else die;) 

And finds there nothing to make its tetror less 

i{Hysterica passio} of its own emptiness? 
No dark tomb-haunter once; her form all full 

As though with magnanimity of light, 

Yet a most gentle woman; who can tell 

Which of her forms has shown her substance right? 

Or maybe substance can be composite, 

profound McTaggart thought so, and in a breath 

A mouthful held the extreme of life and death. 
But even at the starting-post, all sleek and new, 

I saw the wildness in her and I thought 

A vision of terror that it must live through 

Had shattered her soul. Propinquity had brought 

Imagiation to that pitch where it casts out 

All that is not itself: I had grown wild 

And wandered murmuring everywhere, ‘My child, my 

child! ‘ 
Or else I thought her supernatural; 

As though a sterner eye looked through her eye 

On this foul world in its decline and fall; 

On gangling stocks grown great, great stocks run dry, 

Ancestral pearls all pitched into a sty, 

Heroic reverie mocked by clown and knave, 

And wondered what was left for massacre to save.