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Background details and bibliographic information

Demon and Beast

Author: William Butler Yeats

File Description

Electronic edition compiled and proof-read by Beatrix Färber

Funded by School of History, University College, Cork

1. First draft.

Extent of text: 916 words


CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork
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Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: E910001-064

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.


Written on 23 November 1918; first published in the Dial in November 1920 (A. Norman Jeffares, p. 235).


    Literature (a small 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 Ure, 'Yeats's 'Demon and Beast', Irish Writing 31 (Summer 1955) 42–50.
  4. Peter Allt and Russell K. Alspach, The Variorum Edition of the Poems of W.B. Yeats (New York: Macmillan 1957).
  5. W. B. Yeats, Essays and Introductions (New York: Macmillan 1961).
  6. W. B. Yeats, Explorations: selected by Mrs W. B. Yeats (London/New York: Macmillan 1962).
  7. Richard Ellmann, The Identity of Yeats (New York 1964).
  8. Paul Cohen, 'Yeats as Portraitist', Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 5/2 (Decmber 1979), 31–37.
  9. A. Norman Jeffares, A New Commentary on the Poems of W.B. Yeats (Stanford 1984).
  10. Seamus Deane, ''The Second Coming': Coming Second; Coming in a Second', Irish University Review, 22/1 (Spring/Summer 1992) 92–100.
  11. A general 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 Demon and Beast in , Ed. Richard J. Finneran The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats. Macmillan Press, London, (1991) pages 188–189


Project Description

CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

Sampling Declaration

The whole poem.

Editorial Declaration


The text has been proof-read twice.


The electronic text represents the edited text.


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


div0= the individual 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: (23 November 1918)

Use of language

Language: [EN] The poem is in English.

Revision History

Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: E910001-064

Demon and Beast: Author: William Butler Yeats


  1. For certain minutes at the least
    That crafty demon and that loud beast
    That plague me day and night
    Ran out of my sight;
    Though I had long perned in the gyre,
    Between my hatred and desire.
    I saw my freedom won
    And all laugh in the sun.
  2. The glittering eyes in a death's head
    Of old Luke Wadding's portrait said
    Welcome, and the Ormondes all
    Nodded upon the wall,
    And even Strafford smiled as though
    It made him happier to know
    I understood his plan.
    Now that the loud beast ran
    There was no portrait in the Gallery
    But beckoned to sweet company,
    For all men's thoughts grew clear
    Being dear as mine are dear.
  3. But soon a tear-drop started up,
    For aimless joy had made me stop
    Beside the little lake
    To watch a white gull take
    A bit of bread thrown up into the air;
    Now gyring down and perning there
    He splashed where an absurd
    Portly green-pated bird
    Shook off the water from his back;
    Being no more demoniac
    A stupid happy creature
    Could rouse my whole nature.

  4. p.189

  5. Yet I am certain as can be
    That every natural victory
    Belongs to beast or demon,
    That never yet had freeman
    Right mastery of natural things,
    And that mere growing old, that brings
    Chilled blood, this sweetness brought;
    Yet have no dearer thought
    Than that I may find out a way
    To make it linger half a day.
  6. O what a sweetness strayed
    Through barren Thebaid,
    Or by the Mareotic sea
    When that exultant Anthony
    And twice a thousand more
    Starved upon the shore
    And withered to a bag of bones!
    What had the Caesars but their thrones?