The first time I heard this poem was when my mother recited it to my step-father in the kitchen. She had tears in her eyes but I wasn’t sure it was because she was moved by the poem, or by the fact that it manifestly fell on deaf ears and that her dreams had been trodden underfoot. I suspect both.

I later heard a friend recite it to me after her mother or father had sent it to her by letter in Taiwan.

It’s one I have learned by heart and the first of a series of poems I have begun sending to family, by post, handwritten with a few notes added for context or for the non-native English speakers among them.


Source: W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) – The Cloths of Heaven

Photo credit: FelixMittermeier at pixabay


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.


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