CELT document E930001-099

Parnell's Funeral

William Butler Yeats

Parnell's Funeral



  1. Under the Great Comedian's tomb the crowd.
    A bundle of tempestuous cloud is blown
    About the sky; where that is clear of cloud
    Brightness remains; a brighter star shoots down;
    What shudders run through all that animal blood?
    What is this sacrifice? Can someone there
    Recall the Cretan barb that pierced a star?
  2. Rich foliage that the starlight glittered through,
    A frenzied crowd, and where the branches sprang
    A beautiful seated boy; a sacred bow;
    A woman, and an arrow on a string;
    A pierced boy, image of a star laid low.
    That woman, the Great Mother imaging,
    Cut out his heart. Some master of design
    Stamped boy and tree upon Sicilian coin.
  3. An age is the reversal of an age:
    When strangers murdered Emmet, Fitzgerald, Tone,
    We lived like men that watch a painted stage.
    What matter for the scene, the scene once gone:
    It had not touched our lives. But popular rage,
    Hysterica passio dragged this quarry down.
    None shared our guilt; nor did we play a part
    Upon a painted stage when we devoured his heart.
  4. Come, fix upon me that accusing eye.
    I thirst for accusation. All that was sung,  p.280
    All that was said in Ireland is a lie
    Bred out of the contagion of the throng,
    Saving the rhyme rats hear before they die.
    Leave nothing but the nothings that belong
    To this bare soul, let all men judge that can
    Whether it be an animal or a man.
  5. 2.

  6. The rest I pass, one sentence I unsay.
    Had de Valera eaten Parnell's heart
    No loose-lipped demagogue had won the day.
    No civil rancour torn the land apart.
  7. Had Cosgrave eaten Parnell's heart, the land's
    Imagination had been satisfied,
    Or lacking that, government in such hands.
    O'Higgins its sole statesman had not died.
  8. Had even O'Duffy — but I name no more —
    Their school a crowd, his master solitude;
    Through Jonathan Swift's clark grove he passed, and there
    plucked bitter wisdom that enriched his blood.

Document details

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Title statement

Title (uniform): Parnell's Funeral

Author: William Butler Yeats

Responsibility statement

Electronic edition compiled and proof-read by: Beatrix Färber and Rebecca Daly

Funded by: School of History, University College, Cork

Edition statement

1. First draft.

Extent: 1115 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2014

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E930001-099

Availability: The works by W. B. Yeats are in the public domain. This electronic text is available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of private or academic research and teaching.

Notes statement

The poem was completed in April 1933. Lines 16–23 appeared without tile in the Dublin Magazine April–June 1932. First published as a whole on 19 October 1934 in the Spectator where the first section was entitled 'A Parnellite at Parnell's Funeral', and the second 'Forty Years Later'. The whole poem first appeared with the present title in A Full Moon in March. This information is taken from Jeffares, p. 399.

Source description


  1. W. B. Yeats, The King of the Great Clock-Tower (=A Full Moon in March) (Dublin: Cuala Press 1934)
  2. W. B. Yeats, A Full Moon in March, part 3, 'Parnell's Funeral and other Poems' (London 1935).
  3. W. B. Yeats, The King of the Great Clock-Tower, and Commentaries and Poems [Facsimile reprint of 1st edition, Dublin 1934] (Shannon: Irish University Press 1970).
  4. W. B. Yeats, 'The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats', A new edition', edited by Richard J. Finneran, 1983 [reprinted].

Literature (selection)

  1. W. B. Yeats, The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats, consisting of Reveries over childhood and youth, The trembling of the veil, and Dramatis personae (New York 1938).
  2. Richard Ellmann, Yeats: The Man and the Masks. Corrected edition with a new preface (Oxford 1979). [First published New York 1948; reprinted London 1961.]
  3. Peter Allt and Russell K. Alspach, The Variorum Edition of the Poems of W.B. Yeats (New York: Macmillan 1957).
  4. W. B. Yeats, Essays and Introductions (New York: Macmillan 1961).
  5. W. B. Yeats, Explorations: selected by Mrs W. B. Yeats (London/New York: Macmillan 1962).
  6. Richard Ellmann, The Identity of Yeats (New York 1964).
  7. A. Norman Jeffares, A New Commentary on the Poems of W.B. Yeats (Stanford 1984).
  8. Helen Vendler, 'New Wine in Old Bottles: Yeats's 'Parnell's Funeral'', The Southern Review, Spring 1991, 399–406.
  9. Helen Vendler, Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form (Oxford/New York 2007).
  10. A bibliography is available online at the official web site of the Nobel Prize. See: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1923/yeats-bibl.html

The edition used in the digital edition

Yeats, William Butler (1991). ‘Parnell’s Funeral’. In: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats‍. Ed. by Richard J. Finneran. London: Macmillan Press, pp. 279–280.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  author 	 = {William Butler Yeats},
  title 	 = {Parnell's Funeral},
  editor 	 = {Richard J. Finneran},
  booktitle 	 = {The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats},
  publisher 	 = {Macmillan Press},
  address 	 = { London},
  date 	 = {1991},
  pages 	 = {279–280}


Encoding description

Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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The whole poem.

Editorial declarations

Correction: The text has been proof-read twice.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the edited text.

Hyphenation: The editorial practice of the hard-copy editor has been retained.

Segmentation: div0= the individual poem, div1= the part, stanzas are marked lg.

Interpretation: Names of persons (given names), and places are not tagged. Terms for cultural and social roles are not tagged.

Reference declaration

A canonical reference to a location in this text should be made using “part”, eg part 1.

Profile description

Creation: By William Butler Yeats (1865–1939).

Date: April 1933

Language usage

  • The poem is in English. (en)
  • One term is in Latin. (la)

Keywords: literary; poetry; W. B. Yeats; 20c; Parnell

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2014-04-01: SGML and HTML files created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2014-03-31: Remaining structural markup applied. (ed. Rebecca Daly)
  3. 2014-03-28: TEI header created; file parsed and validated. Some structural markup applied. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  4. 1996?: First proofing. (ed. Students at the CELT Project, UCC)
  5. 1996?: Text captured (data capture Students at the CELT Project, UCC)

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