60th YISS Poetry Project






Man And The Echo

By William Butler Yeats

Chosen by Professor Seán Golden, academic advisor to the board of Yeats Society Sligo. Seán is - now retired - a professor at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona



Man And The Echo

Man. In a cleft that's christened Alt
Under broken stone I halt
At the bottom of a pit
That broad noon has never lit,
And shout a secret to the stone.
All that I have said and done,
Now that I am old and ill,
Turns into a question till
I lie awake night after night
And never get the answers right.
Did that play of mine send out
Certain men the English shot?
Did words of mine put too great strain
On that woman's reeling brain?
Could my spoken words have checked
That whereby a house lay wrecked?
And all seems evil until I
Sleepless would lie down and die.

Echo. Lie down and die.

Man. That were to shirk
The spiritual intellect's great work,
And shirk it in vain. There is no release
In a bodkin or disease,
Nor can there be work so great
As that which cleans man's dirty slate.
While man can still his body keep
Wine or love drug him to sleep,
Waking he thanks the Lord that he
Has body and its stupidity,
But body gone he sleeps no more,
And till his intellect grows sure
That all's arranged in one clear view,
pursues the thoughts that I pursue,
Then stands in judgment on his soul,
And, all work done, dismisses all
Out of intellect and sight
And sinks at last into the night.

Echo. Into the night.

Man. O Rocky Voice,
Shall we in that great night rejoice?
What do we know but that we face
One another in this place?
But hush, for I have lost the theme,
Its joy or night-seem but a dream;
Up there some hawk or owl has struck,
Dropping out of sky or rock,
A stricken rabbit is crying out,
And its cry distracts my thought.



Week 1: Alice Lyons, Poet-in-Residence, poetry
Poem - 'The Circus Animals' Desertion' by WB Yeats

Week 2: Stella Mew, Yeats scholar and former CEO of Yeats Society Sligo
Poem - 'Sailing to Byzantium' by WB Yeats

Week 3: Kevin Connolly; Author 'Yeats and Sligo'
Poem - 'On a Political Prisoner' by WB Yeats

Week 4: Martin Enright, Honorary President of Yeats Society Sligo
Poem - 'The Wild Swans at Coole' by WB Yeats

Week 5: Auriel Robinson, Director of Sligo-based heritage trails company Seatrails
Poem - 'September 1913' by WB Yeats

Week 6: Warwick Gould, Emeritus Professor, University of London
Poem - 'Mohini Chatterjee' by WB Yeats

Week 7: Marian Richardson, RTÉ Radio Broadcaster, Series Producer and Presenter of Playback
Poem - 'In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Constance Markievicz' by WB Yeats

Week 8: Rosaleen O'Grady, Mayor Municipal District Sligo
Poem - 'Broken Dreams' by WB Yeats

Week 9: Professor Frank McGuinness, UCD poet and playwright
Poem - 'Prayer for My Son' by WB Yeats

Week 10: Yeats Society Sligo Director, Susan O'Keeffe
Poem - 'Adam's Curse' by WB Yeats

Week 11: Robert Fitzpatrick & the Fitzpatrick family - in memory of their mother Joan
Poem - 'The Fiddler of Dooney' by WB Yeats

Week 12: Eileen Magnier, RTÉ North West Correspondent
Poem - 'Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' by WB Yeats

Week 13: Una Mannion, lecturer in Performing Arts and Chair of the new Writing and Literature BA at IT Sligo
Poem - 'The Song of Wandering Aengus' by WB Yeats

Week 14: Deaglán de Bréadún - author, journalist and former Yeats Summer School student
Poem - 'A Prayer for my Daughter' by WB Yeats

Week 15: Emer McGarry, Acting Director, The Model, Sligo
Poem - 'The Second Coming' by WB Yeats

Week 16: Maura McTighe, former President of Yeats Society Sligo
Poem - 'Sailing to Byzantium' by WB Yeats

Week 17: Peter Fallon, poet and editor and member of Aosdána. He founded Ireland's pre-eminent literary publishing house, The Gallery Press, in 1969
Poem - 'Politics' by WB Yeats

Week 18: Chosen by Professor Seán Golden, academic advisor to the board of Yeats Society Sligo. Seán is - now retired - a professor at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Poem - 'Man And The Echo' by WB Yeats