Three poems from ‘The Wind Among the Reeds’ (1899) by WB Yeats (1865 -1939)

He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes

Fasten your hair with a golden pin,
And bind up every wandering tress;
I bade my heart build these poor rhymes:                                                                          It worked at them, day out, day in,                                                                                      Building a sorrowful loveliness
Out of the battles of old times.

You need but lift a pearl-pale hand,
And bind up your long hair and sigh;
And all men’s hearts must burn and beat;                                                                        And candle-like foam on the dim sand,                                                                          And starts climbing the dew-dropping sky,                                                                    Live but to light your passing feet.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,                                                              Enwrought with golden and silver light,                                                                          The blue and the dim and the dark cloths                                                                      Of night and light and the half-light,                                                                                    I would spread the cloths under your feet;
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;                                                                  Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

He Hears the Cry of the Sedge

I wander by the edge
Of this desolate lake
Where wind cries in the sedge:                                                                                      Until the axle break
That keeps the stars in their round,                                                                                And hands hurl in the deep
The banners of East and West,
And the girdle of light is unbound,                                                                                        Your breast will not lie by the breast                                                                                  Of your beloved in sleep.

Performance Notes

The piano dynamics are relative to the size of the choir employed.

The wordless portamenti at the opening, suggesting a gentle breeze, must be subtle and tasteful.

The concluding ‘ssssss’ exhalation must be ppp, with a very slight downward
portamento, a niente. It is to start exactly where indicated, so as not to mask the
piano part. Allow a generous silent GP at the very end