The Wild Swans at Coole, a poem

No, I didn’t write this, but I wish to God I had. This was written by W. B. Yeats, the great Irish poet who lived from 1865-1939. This is the poem that first got me excited about poetry in the first place, back in my teens. When I first read this poem, something came alive inside me that never died, even though it slumbered for many years. I just wanted to share this beautiful poem with everyone. I hope it moves you as much as it has always moved me.


The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine and fifty swans.

The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold,
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

W. B. Yeats

3 Responses to “The Wild Swans at Coole, a poem”

  1. 1 ~m
    October 15, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    Though I may never truly understand this, the words are truly beautiful and just.
    I’m jealous of Yeats in a way I don’t completely understand, if that makes any sesnse.

    It’s ok, we’re all jealous of Yeats. 😉 But seriously, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yeats is my favorite poet; he has been a big influence on my own poetry.


  2. 2 Sam
    October 16, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Easy to see the inspiration in his words, and the impact on your life. Thankfully you found him and this poem. Thank you for sharing.

  3. October 19, 2007 at 7:51 am

    What a coincidence that I should read this. I just got a book on Yeats. I haven’t started it yet. This was lovely Smith.

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