Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition

Background details and bibliographic information

The Three Hermits

Author: William Butler Yeats

File Description

Electronic edition compiled and proof-read by Beatrix Färber, Juliette Maffet

Funded by School of History, University College, Cork

1. First draft.

Extent of text: 587 words


CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork
College Road, Cork, Ireland—


Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: E910001-012

Availability [RESTRICTED]

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.


  1. A bibliography is available online at the official web site of the Nobel Prize. See:
    The edition used in the digital edition
  1. William Butler Yeats The Three Hermits in , Ed. William Butler Yeats Responsibilities and other Poems. The Macmillan Company, New York, (1916) page 45–46


Project Description

CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling Declaration

The whole selection.

Editorial Declaration


Text has been proof-read twice.


The electronic text represents the edited text. Lines (or parts of them) reproduced in italics in the printed edition are tagged hi rend="ital".


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


div0 =the poem, stanzas are marked lg.


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

Profile Description

Created: By William Butler Yeats (1865–1939). Date range: before 1916.

Use of language

Language: [EN] The poem is in English.

Revision History

Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: E910001-012

The Three Hermits: Author: William Butler Yeats


  1. Three old hermits took the air
    By a cold and desolate sea,
    First was muttering a prayer,
    Second rummaged for a flea;
    On a windy stone, the third,
    Giddy with his hundredth year,
    Sang unnoticed like a bird.
    'Though the Door of Death is near
    And what waits behind the door,
    Three times in a single day
    I, though upright on the shore,
    Fall asleep when I should pray.'
    So the first but now the second,
    'We're but given what we have earned
    When all thoughts and deeds are reckoned,
    So it's plain to be discerned


    That the shades of holy men,
    Who have failed being weak of will,
    Pass the Door of Birth again,
    And are plagued by crowds, until
    They've the passion to escape.'
    Moaned the other, 'They are thrown
    Into some most fearful shape.'
    But the second mocked his moan:
    'They are not changed to anything,
    Having loved God once, but maybe,
    To a poet or a king
    Or a witty lovely lady.'
    While he'd rummaged rags and hair,
    Caught and cracked his flea, the third,
    Giddy with his hundredth year
    Sang unnoticed like a bird.