Poem introduction

A couple of miles from Innisfree, no four or five miles from Innisfree, there's a great rock called Dooney Rock where I had often picnicked when a child. And when in my 24th year I made up a poem about a merry fiddler I called him 'The Fiddler of Dooney' in commemoration of that rock and of all those picnics. The places mentioned in the poem are all places near Sligo.

The Fiddler of Dooney

The Fiddler of Dooney

When I play on my fiddle in Dooney.
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My brother is priest in Kilvarnet,
My cousin in Mocharabuiee.

I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.

When we come at the end of time
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle,
And the merry love to dance:

And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With 'Here is the Fiddler of Dooney!'
And dance like a wave of the sea.


from The Collected Poems of W B Yeats edited by Richard J Finneran (Macmillan 1991), reprinted by permission of A P Watt Ltd on behalf of Michael B Yeats. Recording made on 28 February 1935, used by permission of the BBC.

Books by William Butler Yeats