by William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)
Translation © by Pierre Mathé

The scholars
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE
Bald heads forgetful of their sins,
Old, learned, respectable bald heads
Edit and annotate the lines
That young men, tossing on their beds,
Rhymed out in love's despair
To flatter beauty's ignorant ear.

They'll cough in the ink to the world's end;
Wear out the carpet with their shoes
Earning respect; have no strange friend;
If they have sinned nobody knows.
Lord, what would they say
Should their Catullus walk that way?

Confirmed with Yeats, William Butler. The Wild Swans at Coole, New York: The Macmillan company, 1919. The first of two versions.


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Set in a modified version by Joseph Eidson.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , title 1: "Les érudits", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2014-01-10
Line count: 12
Word count: 72

Les érudits
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
Têtes chauves oublieuses de leurs péchés,
Vieilles, éduquées, de respectables têtes chauves 
Éditent et annotent les lignes
Que de jeunes hommes jetés sur leurs lits
Rimèrent sur leurs désespoirs d'amour
Pour flatter les oreilles ignorantes des beautés .

Ils tousseront dans l'encre jusqu'à la fin du monde ;
De leurs chaussures useront le tapis
En gagnant le respect ; ils n'ont pas d'étrange ami ;
S'ils ont péché, personne ne le sait.
Seigneur, que diraient-ils
Si leur Catulle suivait ce chemin ?


  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2015 by Pierre Mathé, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2015-12-29
Line count: 12
Word count: 82