Yeats Songs

Song Cycle by Owen Underhill (b. 1954)

Word count: 297

1. Her triumph [sung text not yet checked]

I did the dragon's will until you came
Because I had fancied love a casual
Improvisation, or a settled game
That followed if I let the kerchief fall:
Those deeds were best that gave the minute wings
And heavenly music if they gave it wit;
And then you stood among the dragon-rings.
I mocked, being crazy, but you mastered it
And broke the chain and set my ankles free,
Saint George or else a pagan Perseus;
And now we stare astonished at the sea,
And a miraculous strange bird shrieks at us.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The fool by the roadside [sung text not yet checked]

When all works that have
From cradle run to grave
From grave to cradle run instead;
When thoughts that a fool
Has wound upon a spool
Are but loose thread, are but loose thread;
When cradle and spool are past
And I mere shade at last
Coagulate of stuff
Transparent like the wind,
I think that I may find
A faithful love, a faithful love. 

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. Before the world was made [sung text not yet checked]

If I make the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And the lips more scarlet,
Or ask if all be right
From mirror after mirror,
No vanity's displayed:
I'm looking for the face I had
Before the world was made.

What if I look upon a man
As though on my beloved,
And my blood be cold the while
And my heart unmoved?
Why should he think me cruel
Or that he is betrayed?
I'd have him love the thing that was
Before the world was made. 

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. A cradle song [sung text not yet checked]

The angels are [stooping]1, above your bed;
They weary of trooping with the whimpering dead.
God's laughing in heaven to see you so good;
The [Shining]2 Seven are gay with His mood.
[I kiss you and kiss you, my pigeon my own.
Ah how I shall miss you when you have grown.]3

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Una ninna nanna", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
First published in Scots Observer, April 1890; revised 1901
1 Grill: "singing"
2 Ebel, Grill: "Sailing"
3 Ebel: "I sigh that kiss you, for I must own/ That I shall miss you when you have grown."; Grill: "I sigh that kiss you, for I must own/ That I shall miss you when you have gone."

Research team for this text: Ted Perry , Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]