Under Ben Bulben

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Under Ben Bulben is a poem written by celebrated Irish poet W. B. Yeats.


It is believed to be one of the last poems he wrote, being drafted when he was 73, in August 1938 when his health was already poor (he died in January 1939).[1]


The phrase 'Mareotic Lake' is used by the author of De Vita Contemplativa when writing about the Therapeutae.[2]

Yeats's gravestone[edit]

The last three lines contain instructions for his own gravestone. These have been fulfilled.[3]


The poem, read by actor Richard Harris, opens and closes an album of Yeats's poems set to music, entitled Now And In A Time To Be.


The title of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry's first novel, Horseman, Pass By, is derived from the last three lines of this poem. The same is true about the French writer Michel Déon's book Horseman, Pass By![4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stallworthy, Jon; Yeats, W. B. (1966). "W. B. Yeats's 'Under Ben Bulben". The Review of English Studies. Oxford University Press. 17 (65): 30–53 – via JSTOR.
  2. ^

    Now this class of persons may be met with in many places, for it was fitting that both Greece and the country of the barbarians should partake of whatever is perfectly good; and there is the greatest number of such men in Egypt, in every one of the districts, or nomes, as they are called, and especially around Alexandria; and from all quarters those who are the best of these therapeutae proceed on their pilgrimage to some most suitable place as if it were their country, which is beyond the Maereotic lake.

    — De Vita Contemplativa . http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/philo-ascetics.html On Ascetics] (another name for the De Vita Contemplativa), Section III.
  3. ^ Drumcliffe, County Sligo, Ireland
  4. ^ Savin, Tristan (2005-07-01). "Michel Déon, esthète naturaliste". L'Express (in French). Retrieved 2015-04-15.