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Ephemera Poem by William Butler Yeats – Irish Love Poem

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The Ephemera poem is the last on my list of Irish love poems. I started with a list of 12 Irish love poems, and it has been fun learning and sharing the analysis of each of these poems. Some I had already covered from my list of 100 top Irish poems, and some(like this one) I did not. 

Yeats appears three times in my top Irish love poems list and an incredible 17 times in the Irish Times top 100 poems list! Yeats sure is one of the greats.

As this is the last in my Irish love poems list, I thought it would be nice to include some video renditions. So at the end of the poem, you can find a musical cover and a touching reading of the poem. 

But first, what is the poem Ephemera all about?

Irish love poem Ephemera by W B YeatsEphemera poem meaning: Ephemera, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? The word itself means things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time(fleeting or short-lived). In this case, love.  William Butler Yeats’ poem “Ephemera” discusses the withering of love through time. The speaker and their partner reminisce about their former experiences together as the intensity of their attachment fades. The poem employs the shifting seasons and aspects of nature to represent the emotional fluctuations in the relationship.

Despite their fatigue and distance, they acknowledge the fleeting nature of love, and the poem finishes with a contemplation on the eternal character of their souls, which are defined by both love and the act of saying goodbye. The poem reflects the bittersweet essence of love’s transitory nature and the passing of time. Another interesting aspect of the poem is that Yeats was only 24 when he wrote this poem. To be able to put such a complex emotion into this poem just shows you how incredible he was, even from an early age. 


“Your eyes that once were never weary of mine
“Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
“Because our love is waning.”

And then she:
“Although our love is waning, let us stand
“By the lone border of the lake once more,
“Together in that hour of gentleness
“When the poor tired child, Passion, falls asleep:
“How far away the stars seem, and how far
“Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!”

Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,
While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
“Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.”

The woods were around them, and the yellow leaves
Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once
A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
On the lone border of the lake once more:
Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,
In bosom and hair.

“Ah, do not mourn,” he said,
“That we are tired, for other loves await us;
“Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
“Before us lies eternity; our souls
“Are love, and a continual farewell.”

WB Yeats


Incredible piece of Irish poetry, isn’t it? He really was a gifted poet and seemed to know more about life than I did at 24(how old Yeats was when he wrote this poem), that’s for sure.  Here is a wonderful song cover of the poem: 



And there is also this lovely reading of “Ephemera poem”


As for what’s next for my poem collection. I am not sure! I might venture out of Irish poems or do a mix. At this stage, I have covered over 110 Irish poems in the last few years, so I am looking to take on a new angle. One this is for sure You have to sign up for my weekly dose of Irish to find out 🫡😎


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