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Green Helmet

Isobel Lilian Gloag, The Knight and the Mermaid, or The Kiss of the Enchantress (ca. 1890), detail

I keep wanting to say things in sorrow

Even when I've got nothing to say;

What best might be spoken tomorrow

I recklessly utter today.

“When I was young,

I had not given a penny for a song

Did not the poet sing it with such airs

That one believed he had a sword upstairs;

Yet would be now, could I but have my wish,

Colder and dumber and deafer than a fish,”

Yeats says.*

That’s wishful thinking—

You should quote these lines winking!

I, too, would have my helmet green

If poetry could scour it clean.

*”All Things Can Tempt Me,” in The Green Helmet (1910)


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