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The Host Of The Air By W. B. Yeats – Including Analysis

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This weeks poem from my list of top 100 Irish poems is number 97 titled “The Host Of The Air” by W.B. Yeats

What is the poem “The Host Of The Air” about?

This fantastic poem by W. B. Yeats tells the story of a man falling asleep while working beside a lake.
This poem is an English version of an old Gaelic (Irish) ballad which the poet heard sung and translated in Ballisodare, County Sligo.

“The host of the air” refers to the bread and wine. In the Roman Catholic church service of mass, the bread and wine represent Jesus, who is the “Host” of the meal which the worshippers share.

Now let’s get to the top Irish poem. If you would like to get a new poem straight to your inbox every week you can subscribe here to my weekly Irish poem.

The Host Of The Air By William Butler Yeats

THE HOST OF THE AIR

by: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

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 atms,
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.

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When You Are Old - A Poem By William Butler Yeats
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