The Author William Butler Yeats

To A Wealthy Man


    You gave but will not give again
    Until enough of Paudeen’s pence
    By Biddy’s halfpennies have lain
    To be ‘some sort of evidence,’
    Before you’ll put your guineas down,
    That things it were a pride to give
    Are what the blind and ignorant town
    Imagines best to make it thrive.
    What cared Duke Ercole, that bid
    His mummers to the market place,
    What th’ onion-sellers thought or did
    So that his Plautus set the pace
    For the Italian comedies?
    And Guidobaldo, when he made
    That grammar school of courtesies
    Where wit and beauty learned their trade
    Upon Urbino’s windy hill,
    Had sent no runners to and fro
    That he might learn the shepherds’ will.
    And when they drove out Cosimo,
    Indifferent how the rancour ran,
    He gave the hours they had set free
    To Michelozzo’s latest plan
    For the San Marco Library,
    Whence turbulent Italy should draw
    Delight in Art whose end is peace,
    In logic and in natural law
    By sucking at the dugs of Greece.

    Your open hand but shows our loss,
    For he knew better how to live.
    Let Paudeens play at pitch and toss,
    Look up in the sun’s eye and give
    What the exultant heart calls good
    That some new day may breed the best
    Because you gave, not what they would
    But the right twigs for an eagle’s nest!


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