William Butler Yeats

by Toby Darling

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A Selection of poems by William Butler Yeats which I have set to music.

I have made videos for all of these settings which can be found at:


released June 20, 2015

Poems by William Butler Yeats
Music by Toby Darling
All instruments programmed/played by Toby Darling




Toby Darling Winchester, UK

Amateur enthusiast.
Feel free to do anything you want with these tracks, I am not interested in making money from music.

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Track Name: The Wild Swans at Coole
The Wild Swans at Coole
Intro: A9 Bm/A Asus4 A x2
A Bm
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Em A
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Em A Em A
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

D C Em
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
Em D Bm Em
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
D C Em
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
G F Am
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

Bm/A = x0443x
Track Name: A Dream of Death
A Dream Of Death (Yeats)
Intro: Dm E/D Csus2/D D6 x3

A13 F#dim/A Dm6/A A
I DREAMED that one had died in a strange place
Bm7 F#m7 C#m7
Near no accustomed hand,
A13 F#dim/A Dm6/A A
And they had nailed the boards above her face,
Bm7 F#m7 C#m7
The peasants of that land,
Dm E/D Csus2/D D6
Wondering to lay her in that solitude,
Dm7 Am7 Bm7
And raised above her mound
Dm E/D Csus2/D D6
A cross they had made out of two bits of wood,
Dm7 Am7 Bm7
And planted cypress round;
C D Em Am7
And left her to the indifferent stars above
Bm7 C D
Until I carved these words:
C D Em G
She was more beautiful than thy first love,
C D Am7
But now lies under boards.

A13: x0567x (AGC#F#)
F#dim/A: x0457x (AF#CF#)
Dm6/A: x0343x (AFBD)
A: x0333x (AF#CF#)
Bm7: x24232
F#m7: 242222
C#m7: x46454
Dm: xx0765 (DDFA)
E/D: xx0754 (DDEG#)
Csus2/D: xx0533 (DCDG)
D6: xx0432 (DBDF#)
Dm7: xx0211 Am7: x03010
Bm7: x24232
Track Name: Sailing to Byzantium
Sailing to Byzantium

THAT is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
Track Name: When You Are Old
When You Are Old (WB Yeats)

Verse1 instr

C Dm-C
WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
C Dm-C
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

C-F C - G
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
Dm G-C
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

Verse 2 instr

Em-Am Dm-G
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Verse3 instrx2 end on C

Note:C=G means play 3 beats on C and 1 beat on G
Track Name: The Song of Wandering Aengus
The Song of Wandering Aengus

Am G
I WENT out to the hazel wood,
Am F
Because a fire was in my head,
Am Em
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
Am F
And hooked a berry to a thread;
Am G
And when white moths were on the wing,
Am F
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
Am Em
I dropped the berry in a stream
Am F
And caught a little silver trout.

C Bm
When I had laid it on the floor
Am G
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
C Bm
But something rustled on the floor,
Am D
And someone called me by my name:
G D Em
It had become a glimmering girl
G D Em
With apple blossom in her hair
Bm A
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Instr: Bm A G A x2

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Am G x4 fade
Track Name: The Second Coming

Intro: Cm Bb Dm Gm Bb Cm Gm
Cm Bb Dm Gm
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
Bb Cm Gm
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Cm Bb Dm Gm
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Bb Cm D7
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
G C D7
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
G Cm G Cm
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Bb Cm Gm
Are full of passionate intensity.
G Cm G Cm
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Bb Cm D7
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
G C D7
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
G C D7
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Bb Cm Bb Cm
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Bb Cm D7
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

G C G C G C D7 x2 instrumental

Cm Bb
The darkness drops again but now I know
Dm Gm
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Bb Cm G D7
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
G C D7 G C G C G C D7 G
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Track Name: The Lake Isle of Innisfree
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
by W. B. Yeats

Intro: Em/A G/E Fmaj7 Am7 x2

Am Em F Am
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
C G Am
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
C G F Am
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
C G Am
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

F G Am C G
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
F G Am D
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
C Dm F Em
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
Dm C Em
And evening full of the linnet's wings.


I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Verse 2 instr

Em/A: x0200x
G/E: 02003x
Fmaj7: xx3210
Am7: x02010
Track Name: Who Goes with Fergus
Who Goes With Fergus?

WHO will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood's woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.
And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love's bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all dishevelled wandering stars.
Track Name: Easter 1916
Easter 1916 (Yeats)

Am Dm
I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
Dm F
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
F Am
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
Am Em
To please a companion
Am D
Around the fire at the club,
Bm G
Being certain that they and I
A Bm
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse.
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vain-glorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter, seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute change.
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim;
And a horse plashes within it
Where long-legged moor-hens dive
And hens to moor-cocks call.
Minute by minute they live:
The stone's in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death.
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead.
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse --
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
Track Name: To an Isle in the Water
by: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
G Em
Shy one, shy one,
D Am7
Shy one of my heart,
D Am7
She moves in the firelight
B Em
Pensively apart.

She carries in the dishes,
D Am7
And lays them in a row.
D Am7
To an isle in the water
B Em
With her would I go.

She carries in the candles,
And lights the curtained room,
Shy in the doorway
And shy in the gloom;

And shy as a rabbit,
Helpful and shy.
To an isle in the water
With her would I fly.

from Crossways. W.B. Yeats. 1889.
Track Name: Down by the Salley Gardens
Down By the Salley Gardens
Em C Bm Am
Down by the salley gardens
Em A Em A
my love and I did meet;
Em A Em A
She passed the salley gardens
Em C Em A
with little snow-white feet.
Am Em
She bid me take love easy,
Am B7
as the leaves grow on the tree;
Em G A B
But I, being young and foolish,
Em A Em
with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.
Track Name: The Sorrow of Love
The Sorrow of Love
By William Butler Yeats

Intro: Dmaj7 C#m7 Bm7 A x3, G F#m B

Dmaj7 C#m7 Bm7 A
The brawling of a sparrow in the eaves,
G F#m B
The brilliant moon and all the milky sky,
Dmaj7 C#m7 Bm7 A
And all that famous harmony of leaves,
G F#m B
Had blotted out man's image and his cry.

F#m B F#m B
A girl arose that had red mournful lips
D A C#m7 Bm7
And seemed the greatness of the world in tears,
F#m B F#m B
Doomed like Odysseus and the labouring ships
And proud as Priam murdered with his peers;

Arose, and on the instant clamorous eaves,
A climbing moon upon an empty sky,
And all that lamentation of the leaves,
Could but compose man's image and his cry.
Track Name: An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
Here is another of Yeats' poems which I have set to music.

An Irish Airman foresees his Death

Intro: A* G9 x8

A* G9
I KNOW that I shall meet my fate
D4 A
Somewhere among the clouds above;

A* G9
Those that I fight I do not hate
D4 A
Those that I guard I do not love;
Em D
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
Em D
No likely end could bring them loss
G A7
Or leave them happier than before.
Bm7 Em
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Bm7 Em
Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,
F#m Bm
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
Em D Em D
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
C G D C Em
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
Bm7 Em
A waste of breath the years behind
C G A7
In balance with this life, this death.

G9 = xx5435
D4 = x5403x