I walk through the long schoolroom questioning; A kind old nun in a white hood replies; The children learn to cipher and to sing, To study reading-books and histories, To cut and sew, be neat in everything In the best modern way -- the children's eyes In momentary wonder stare upon A sixty-year-old smiling public man. I dream of a Ledaean body, bent Above a sinking fire. a tale that she Told of a harsh reproof, or trivial event That changed some childish day to tragedy -- Told, and it seemed that our two natures blent Into a sphere from youthful sympathy, Or else, to alter Plato's parable, Into the yolk and white of the one shell. III And thinking of that fit of grief or rage I look upon one child or t'other there And wonder if she stood so at that age -- For even daughters of the swan can share Something of every paddler's heritage -- And had that colour upon cheek or hair, And thereupon my heart is driven wild: She stands before me as a living child. Her present image floats into the mind -- Did Quattrocento finger fashion it Hollow of cheek as though it drank the wind And took a mess of shadows for its meat? And I though never of Ledaean kind Had pretty plumage once -- enough of that, Better to smile on all that smile, and show There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow.
Return to the William Butler Yeats library , or . . . Read the next poem; An Acre Of Grass