The Death of Cuchulain By William Butler Yeats

The Death of Cuchulain

The harlot sang to the beggar-man.
I meet them face to face,
Conall, Cuchulain, Usna’s boys,
All that most ancient race;
Maeve had three in an hour, they say.
I adore those clever eyes,
Those muscular bodies, but can get
No grip upon their thighs.
I meet those long pale faces,
Hear their great horses, then
Recall what centuries have passed
Since they were living men.
That there are still some living
That do my limbs unclothe,
But that the flesh my flesh is gripped
I both adore and loathe.

Are those things that men adore and loathe
Their sole reality?
What stood in the Post Office
With Pearse and Connolly?
What comes out of the mountain
Where men first shed their blood?
Who thought Cuchulain till it seemed
He stood where they had stood?

No body like his body
Has modern woman borne,
But an old man looking back in life
Imagines it in scorn.
A statue’s there to mark the place,
By Oliver Sheppard done.
So ends the tale that the harlot
Sang to the beggar-man.


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