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Quotations from William Butler Yeats


Ecstasy is from the contemplation of things vaster than the individual and imperfectly seen perhaps, by all those that still live.

Dramatis Personae (1935)

I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven (1899)

I pray - for fashion's word is out
And prayer comes round again -
That I may seem, though I die old,
A foolish, passionate man.

A Prayer for Old Age (1928)

Man can embody truth but he cannot know it.

Letter (January 4, 1939)

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.

Letter to author Laurence Housman (October 10, 1893)

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The Second Coming (1921)

The mystical life is the centre of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write. ...I have always considered myself a voice of what I believe to be a greater renaissance - the revolt of the soul against the intellect.

Letter to author Laurence Housman (July 23, 1892)

The only business of the head in the world is to bow a ceaseless obeisance to the heart.

Letter (1886)

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