‘High Talk’

William Butler Yeats

PROCESSIONS that lack high stilts have nothing that catches the eye. What if my great-granddad had a pair that were twenty foot high, And mine were but fifteen foot, no modern Stalks upon higher, Some rogue of the world stole them to patch up a fence or a fire. Because piebald ponies, led bears, caged lions, make but poor shows, Because children demand Daddy-long-legs upon This timber toes, Because women in the upper storeys demand a face at the pane, That patching old heels they may shriek, I take to chisel and plane. Malachi Stilt-Jack am I, whatever I learned has run wild, From collar to collar, from stilt to stilt, from father to child. All metaphor, Malachi, stilts and all. A barnacle goose Far up in the stretches of night; night splits and the dawn breaks loose; I, through the terrible novelty of light, stalk on, stalk on; Those great sea-horses bare their teeth and laugh at the dawn.