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November 11, 2009


never give all the heart?

by Andrea O'Connell

This William Butler Yeats (1865-1935) poem has always been one of my favorites. I have wondered at it and about it for years.

I wonder is it always wise to hold back your heart? I suppose one has to only listen to thier heart to really know.

Loving is the birthright of the human race, isn’t it? We are born knowing that, I think, though often it fades into the opposite of love, and even into sheer wickedness as we see in the news reports of daily murders, and other such horrors.

But, we are born to love, this I do believe. I hope you believe with me.

Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

Read more from poetry
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. fancy
    Nov 11 2009

    I think it’s best to have “loved”, and lost, than ever had loved at all.

  2. Andrea
    Nov 12 2009

    Hi Fancy,

    I do tend to agree with you. The line you quote is from “Memorium: 27” by another of my favorite poets – Alfred Lord Tennyson. Here’s the stanza:

    “I hold it true, whate’er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most:
    ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
    Than never to have loved at all.”

    For me, what Yeats is saying, is this: be careful with your heart, and don’t give everything all at once until you know that to whom you give it will hold it gently and not hurt you in the process, crushing your heart to bits….

    A little heartbreak is probably very good for the soul as it teaches us so much… but, too much heartbreak is far too painful, too much to bear, this I know is true…

    Thanks so for sharing here. You have great insight Fancy!



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