We sat together at one summer
mild woman, your close friend
And you and I, and talked of poetry
I said, "A line will take us hours
Yet if it does not seem a moment
has been naught
Better go down upon your marrow
pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper
, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate
sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler
by the noisy set
s, and clergymen
s call the world."
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake
There's many a one shall find out all heartache
On finding that her voice is sweet and low
Replied, "To be born woman is to know--
Although they do not talk of it at school--
That we must labour to be beautiful."
I said, "It's certain there is no fine thing
Since Adam's fall but needs much labouring.
There have been lovers who thought love should be
So much compounded of high courtesy
That they would sigh and quote with learned looks
Precedents out of beautiful old books;
Yet now it seems an idle trade enough."
We sat grown quiet at the name of love;
We saw the last embers of daylight die,
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time's waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.
I had a thought for no one's but your ears;
That you were beautiful, and that I strove
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we'd grown
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.
William Butler Yeats, 1904