The Stolen Child Poem by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet. This post features The Stolen Child Poem by William Butler Yeats.

The Stolen Child poem by William Butler Yeats was published in 1889 in The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems. The poem was written in 1886 and is considered to be one of Yeats’s more notable early poems.

The poem is based on Irish legend and concerns faeries beguiling a child to come away with them. Yeats had a great interest in Irish mythology about faeries resulting in his publication of Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry in 1888 and Fairy Folk Tales of Ireland in 1892.

Buy:- Collected Poems by William Butler Yeats (Macmillan Collector’s Library)

The Stolen Child Poem by William Butler Yeats
The Stolen Child Poem by William Butler Yeats

The Stolen Child Poem

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you
can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you
can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,.
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you
can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
From a world more full of weeping than he
can understand.

– William Butler Yeats

2 Comments


  1. Yeats is very specific – herons by the water (bubbles at their feet), stolen cherries by the bushel (bubbles of red), trout with bad dreams (bubbles by their tails thrashing), runaway children with sleepy demeanor (bubbles in drooling mouths).
    All involve frothing bubbles which the faeries love to chase .
    They celebrate their booty with nocturnal dancing.
    I would say it is the faeries who cause the weeping the world is full of.

    Reply

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