William Butler Yeats

The Statues

Pythagoras planned it. Why did the people stare? His numbers, though they moved or seemed to move In marble or in bronze, lacked character. But boys and girls, pale from the imagined love Of solitary beds, knew what they were, That passion could bring character enough, And pressed at midnight in some public place Live lips upon a plummet-measured face. No! Greater than Pythagoras, for the men That with a mallet or a chisel" modelled these Calculations that look but casual flesh, put down All Asiatic vague immensities, And not the banks of oars that swam upon The many-headed foam at Salamis. Europe put off that foam when Phidias Gave women dreams and dreams their looking-glass. One image crossed the many-headed, sat Under the tropic shade, grew round and slow, No Hamlet thin from eating flies, a fat Dreamer of the Middle Ages. Empty eyeballs knew That knowledge increases unreality, that Mirror on mirror mirrored is all the show. When gong and conch declare the hour to bless Grimalkin crawls to Buddha's emptiness. When Pearse summoned Cuchulain to his side. What stalked through the post Office? What intellect, What calculation, number, measurement, replied? We Irish, born into that ancient sect But thrown upon this filthy modern tide And by its formless spawning fury wrecked, Climb to our proper dark, that we may trace The lineaments of a plummet-measured face.

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