Responsibilities

In dreams begins responsibility.
 Old Play

Pardon, old fathers, if you still remain
Somewhere in ear-shot for the story’s end,
 
Old Dublin merchant “free of ten and four”
Or trading out of Galway into Spain;
 
And country scholar, Robert Emmet’s friend,
A hundred-year-old memory to the poor;
 
Traders or soldiers who have left me blood
That has not passed through any huxter’s loin,
 
Pardon, and you that did not weigh the cost,
Old Butlers when you took to horse and stood
Beside the brackish waters of the Boyne
Till your bad master blenched and all was lost;
 
You merchant skipper that leaped overboard
After a ragged hat in Biscay Bay,
 
You most of all, silent and fierce old man
Because you were the spectacle that stirred
My fancy, and set my boyish lips to say
“Only the wasteful virtues earn the sun “;
 
Pardon that for a barren passion’s sake,
Although I have come close on forty-nine
I have no child, I have nothing but a book,
Nothing but that to prove your blood and mine
.
 – William Butler Yeats, 1914

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