[Skip Navigation]

Poetry Archives

A continuing selection of classic and contemporary poems.

Responsibilities - Introduction

William Butler Yeats

Pardon, old fathers, if you still remain
Somewhere in ear-shot for the story’s end,
Old Dublin merchant “free of the ten and four”
Or trading out of Galway into Spain;
Old country scholar, Robert Emmet’s friend,
A hundred-year-old memory to the poor;
Merchant and scholar who have left me blood
That has not passed through any huckster’s loin,
Soldiers that gave, whatever die was cast:
A Butler or an Armstrong that withstood
Beside the brackish waters of the Boyne
James and his Irish when the Dutchman crossed;
Old merchant skipper that leaped overboard
After a ragged hat in Biscay Bay;
You most of all, silent and fierce old man,
Because the daily spectacle that stirred
My fancy, and set my boyish lips to say,
“Only the wasteful virtues earn the sun”;
Pardon that for a barren passion’s sake,
Although I have come close on forty-nine,
I have no child, I have nothing but a book,
Nothing but that to prove your blood and mine. 
Online text © 1998-2014 Poetry X. All rights reserved.
From Responsibilities | 1914
Add Keyword Tags

Separate each tag with a space. You may add as many tags as you'd like to each poem.

What are tags?
Tags, sometimes called “folksonomies,” are words that describe or categorize a poem, like “20th century modernism” or “Italian sonnet”. Tags can help you find poems that have something in common, based on how other people classify them.

More Info

This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any Internet device.