Are You Content?

by WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS (1865-1939)

I call on those that call me son,
Grandson, or great-grandson,
On uncles, aunts, great-uncles or great-aunts,
To judge what I have done.
Have I, that put it into words,
Spoilt what old loins have sent?
Eyes spiritualised by death can judge,
I cannot, but I am not content.
He that in Sligo at Drumcliff
Set up the old stone Cross,

That red-headed rector in County Down,
A good man on a horse,
Sandymount Corbets, that notable man
Old William Pollexfen,
The smuggler Middleton, Butlers far back,
Half legendary men.
Infirm and aged I might stay
In some good company,
I who have always hated work,
Smiling at the sea,
Or demonstrate in my own life
What Robert Browning meant
By an old hunter talking with Gods;
But I am not content.

Yeats’ references this verse from Robert Browning’s work
“Pauline – a Fragment of a Confession.”

“They came to me in my first dawn of life,
Which passed alone with wisest ancient books,
All halo-girt with fancies of my own,
And I myself went with the tale,–a god,
Wandering after beauty–or a giant,
Standing vast in the sunset–an old hunter,
Talking with gods–or a high-crested chief,
Sailing with troops of friends to Tenedos;–
I tell you, nought has ever been so clear
As the place, the time, the fashion of those lives.”

William Butler Yeats

Yeats was born into an Irish Protestant family in Dublin, Ireland. His father, John Butler Yeats, was a clergyman’s son, a lawyer turned to an Irish Pre-Raphaelite painter. Yeats’s mother, Susan Pollexfen, came from a wealthy family. The Pollexfens had a prosperous milling and shipping business. Yeats’ early years were spent in London and Sligo, a beautiful county on the west coast of Ireland.

William Butler Yeats Contemporaries
Oscar Wilde
Rudyard Kipling
Hilaire Belloc
Edwin Arlington Robinson

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