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Against Unworthy Praise by William Butler Yeats


"Against Unworthy Praise" is a poem written by William Butler Yeats. This poem is, perhaps, about Yeats and a young woman having a fling together that they thought was secret. However, it might be possible that others found out about it and praised him while shaming the woman.

This poem is written as two stanzas with ten lines in each. It is rhymed as ABABCDCEDE in each stanza. The poem shifts between six and seven syllables per line.


Against Unworthy Praise

O heart, be at peace, because
Nor knave nor dolt can break
What's not for their applause,
Being for a woman's sake.
Enough if the work has seemed,
So did she your strength renew,
A dream that a lion had dreamed
Till the wilderness cried aloud,
A secret between you two,
Between the proud and the proud.

What, still you would have their praise!
But here's a haughtier text,
The labyrinth of her days
That her own strangeness perplexed;
And how what her dreaming gave
Earned slander, ingratitude,
From self-same dolt and knave;
Aye, and worse wrong than these.
Yet she, singing upon her road,
Half lion, half child, is at peace.

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