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Brown Penny
William Butler Yeats


I whispered, 'I am too young,'
And then, 'I am old enough';
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
'Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair.'
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

This poem is in the public domain.


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William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)  was an Irish poet from an artistic family; his work was greatly influenced by his country's beauty, folklore, and politics. Considered one of the most significant figures in 20th century literature, Yeats had a lifelong fascination with mysticism and was involved with art and theatre as well as poetry. At 24, he met the great love of his life, Maud Gonne; though she inspired many poems and received multiple proposals from the poet, she married another man and, even after her husband was killed in battle, refused to marry Yeats. He ultimately married a much younger woman and, though the marriage was considered a happy one, Yeats was involved with a number of other women; he claimed it fueled his creative output.



Post New Comment:
The first stanza is just a set-up. Nothing much else there. The brown penny stuff of the last two lines subtracts from the brilliance of the preceding six.
Posted 11/28/2018 10:18 AM
I have always loved this one.
Posted 07/12/2014 09:43 AM
Yes! A good one.
Posted 07/12/2014 08:57 AM

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