Introductory Rhymes

By William Butler Yeats

    Pardon, old fathers, if you still remain
    Somewhere in ear-shot for the story’s end,
    Old Dublin merchant ‘free of ten and four’
    Or trading out of Galway into Spain;
    And country scholar, Robert Emmet’s friend,
    A hundred-year-old memory to the poor;
    Traders or soldiers who have left me blood
    That has not passed through any huxter’s loin,
    Pardon, and you that did not weigh the cost,
    Old Butlers when you took to horse and stood
    Beside the brackish waters of the Boyne
    Till your bad master blenched and all was lost;
    You merchant skipper that leaped overboard
    After a ragged hat in Biscay Bay,
    You most of all, silent and fierce old man
    Because you were the spectacle that stirred
    My fancy, and set my boyish lips to say
    ‘Only the wastful 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.

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