The Host of the Air

  by: W. B. Yeats (1864-1939)

 

 

 

 

O'Driscoll drove with a song,
The wild duck and the drake,
From the tall and the tufted reeds
Of the drear Hart Lake.

 

And he saw how the reeds grew dark
At the coming of night tide,
And dreamed of the long dim hair
Of Bridget his bride.

 

He heard while he sang and dreamed
A piper piping away,
And never was piping so sad,
And never was piping so gay.

 

And he saw young men and young girls
Who danced on a level place
And Bridget his bride among them,
With a sad and a gay face.

 

The dancers crowded about him,
And many a sweet thing said,
And a young man brought him red wine
And a young girl white bread.

 

But Bridget drew him by the sleeve,
Away from the merry bands,
To old men playing at cards
With a twinkling of ancient hands.

 

The bread and the wine had a doom,
For these were the host of the air;
He sat and played in a dream
Of her long dim hair.

 

He played with the merry old men
And thought not of evil chance,
Until one bore Bridget his bride
Away from the merry dance.

 

He bore her away in his arms,
The handsomest young man there,
And his neck and his breast and his arms
Were drowned in her long dim hair.

 

O'Driscoll scattered the cards
And out of his dream awoke:
Old men and young men and young girls
Were gone like a drifting smoke;

 

But he heard high up in the air
A piper piping away,
And never was piping so sad,
And never was piping so gay.


   More poems by W. B. Yeats