Easter 1916 : quotations

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Easter 1916 is a notable literary work by William Butler Yeats. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Easter 1916.


Easter, 1916” is a famous poem by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats. Here are some famous quotations from the poem, along with explanations:

I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words.”

Explanation: In these lines, the speaker mentions their initial indifference and detachment from the rebels, dismissing them with a casual nod or insincere words of politeness.

And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or gibe.

Explanation: The speaker reveals a lack of enthusiasm for the rebels and resorts to making fun of them, sharing jokes and mocking stories about them with friends, often at social gatherings.

All changed, changed utterly.

Explanation: The speaker realizes a profound and irreversible transformation in their perception of the rebels after the uprising. Ss they and most Irish people deeply admired the rebels’ willingness to sacrifice their lives for their country.

“A terrible beauty is born.”

Explanation: These words express the paradoxical aftermath of the uprising. It conveys that the consequences of the rebellion are both horrific. Due to the loss of lives, it kindles a new sense of unity and patriotism among the Irish.

“This man had kept a school
And rode our wingèd horse.”

Explanation: The speaker elevates Patrick Pearse, a schoolteacher and leader of the rebels, to heroic status, likening him to a mythical figure, highlighting his role in promoting Irish culture and education.

Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has been changed in his turn.

Explanation: The speaker reveals Major MacBride, despite personal grievances, as one of the heroes because even his life and legacy have been varied by his involvement in the rebellion, just like the others.

Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.

Explanation: The speaker describes the rebels’ unwavering commitment to their cause as transforming their hearts into unyielding stones, contrasting society’s ever-changing flow of life.

A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute.

Explanation: Life is depicted as a constant stream of change, illustrated by the shifting shadows of clouds. The rebels, however, remain unchanging and eternal, unlike the transient nature of life.

Minute by minute they live:
The stone’s in the midst of all.

Explanation: The rebels’ actions and sacrifices have evolved into an enduring, central force in Irish life, impacting every moment of existence for the Irish people, unlike the ever-changing currents of life.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.

Explanation: The speaker indicates that an extended period of sacrifice can lead to a hardening of the heart, making it insensitive to emotions and the suffering of others. This may apply to both the rebels and the Irish people.

“No, no, not night but death.”

Explanation: The speaker indicates the rebels’ sacrifice from the resurrection of Christ. he highlights that, unlike Christ, the rebels will not be brought back to life. They are forever dead, and their sacrifice is final.

We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead.

Explanation: The speaker realises they may not know the exact outcome of the rebels’ dream. The fact that they dreamt and died for a cause ensures that their legacy and ideals will be remembered.

Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn.

Explanation: The speaker declares that the rebels’ executions breathe new life into Irish nationalism. He underlines that from this point forward, anytime Irish people portray pride or wear the colour green. They will remember and honour the sacrifices of MacDonagh, MacBride, Connolly, and Pearse.