Quotes by William Butler Yeats

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Education is not the filling of the pail, but, the lighting of the fire.

Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.
But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.
Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing.
Think where man's glory most begins and ends, And say my glory was I had such friends.
To be born woman is to know -- although they do not speak of it at school -- women must labor to be beautiful.
The only business of the head in the world is to bow a ceaseless obeisance to the heart.
Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart. O. When may it suffice?
I have known more men destroyed by the desire to have wife and child and to keep them in comfort than I have seen destroyed by drink and harlots.
I balanced all, brought all to mind, the years to come seemed waste of breath, a waste of breath the years behind, in balance with this life, this death.
The years like great black oxen tread the world, and God the herdsman treads them on behind, and I am broken by their passing feet.
When you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.
The intellect of man is forced to choose perfection of the life, or of the work, and if it take the second must refuse a heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
And say my glory was I had such friends.
I carry from my mother's womb a fanatic's heart.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
He made the world to be a grassy road before her wandering feet.
A pity beyond all telling is hid in the heart of love.
Mysticism has been in the past and probably ever will be one of the great powers of the world and it is bad scholarship to pretend the contrary. You may argue against it but you should no more treat it with disrespect than a perfectly cultivated writer would treat (say) the Catholic Church or the Church of Luther no matter how much he disliked them.
Englishmen are babes in philosophy and so prefer faction-fighting to the labor of its unfamiliar thought.
I have believed the best of every man. And find that to believe is enough to make a bad man show him at his best, or even a good man swings his lantern higher.
It is most important that we should keep in this country a certain leisured class. I am of the opinion of the ancient Jewish book which says there is no wisdom without leisure.
I hate journalists. There is nothing in them but tittering jeering emptiness. They have all made what Dante calls the Great Refusal. The shallowest people on the ridge of the earth.
We are happy when for everything inside us there is a corresponding something outside us.
Designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage may be described, I think, as the silent ambassadors on national taste.
A line will take us hours maybe; Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought, our stitching and unstinting has been naught.
I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all like an opera.
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.
I think you can leave the arts, superior or inferior, to the conscience of mankind.
Those that I fight I do not hate, those that I guard I do not love.
The worst thing about some men is that when they are not drunk they are sober.
An aged man is but a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick
I think it better that in times like these a poet's mouth be silent, for in truth we have no gift to set a statesman right.
. . . now that I have come to fifty years I must endure the timid sun.
I whispered, "I am too young" And then, "I am old enough"; Wherefore I threw a penny To find out if I might love.
Words are always getting conventionalized to some secondary meaning. It is one of the works of poetry to take the truants in custody and bring them back to their right senses.
The creations of a great writer are little more than the moods and passions of his own heart, given surnames and Christian names, and sent to walk the earth.
Why, what could she have done, being what she is? Was there another Troy for her to burn?
Midnight has come, and the great Christ Church Bell And many a lesser bell sound through the room; And it is All Souls' Night, And two long glasses brimmed with muscatel Bubble upon the table. A ghost may come; For it is a ghost's right, His element is so fine Being sharpened by his death, To drink from the wine-breath While our gross palates drink from the whole wine.
The trees are in their autumn beauty, The woodland paths are dry, Under the October twilight the water Mirrors a still sky. . . .