November Yeats 24

‘We know their dream; enough

To know they dreamed and are dead; ‘ —W.B. Yeats

Their dreams were small ones – just for ordinary
lives, lived out in ordinary ways,
no river of excitement, just a gentle
stream of endless, ordinary days

They carried those dreams with them, held them
firmly, under shirts, next to the skin,
with other precious things, the things they kept,
a holy medal, or a mother’s ring;

as if those things would warm them, in the cold,
wild rocking boats, pressed tight,
hip against hip, arms wrapped around each other,
in all the dirty dangers of the night.

Sometimes small dreams are still too big to bear,
small dreams can be too heavy to hold on,
and when the waves are rising up around you,
sometimes you find that all your dreams are gone.

Their dreams were small ones:

Ordinary lives
lived out in peace, in ordinary ways.

<Jane gives us another Yeats quote, from Easter 1916. So many people have died for their dreams. 

13 thoughts on “November Yeats 24

      • The only thing that I wondered about was the difference between those who have big dreams and those who have small. The poem starts off with the small dreamers, then big dreamers, then it goes back to small again and sounds as though the small dreams come true. I wasn’t sure if you intend them to be the dreams of different people. I thought I’d sussed it, but the end made me wonder if I’d misunderstood.


      • I was trying to say that even though they didn’t want much, it was still too much to ask for. Sometimes I know what I’m trying to say, and the message isn’t clear, because I assume everybody else knows! I’ve amended it, so I think it’s clearer now. Thank you.


  1. Pingback: Small dreams | Fmme writes poems

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