Yeats, W. B. The Hour Glass.
The Wise Man is visited by a Fool demanding a penny and claiming the gift will make the Wise Man happy. The Wise Man asks why the Fool has the sheers in his hand. The Fool demands four pennies and then explains he uses the sheers to cut the nets which the black dressed man spread over hills to catch angels. The Wise Man's knowledge is not based on faith, but on science, and he wonders about the Fool.
An Angel appears to inform the Wise Man that he is to die as soon as the sand from the upper part of his hour glass moves to the lower one. Since the Wise Man came to teach in this country, nobody died to come to heaven. The Wise Man is given his last chance: if he finds one believing in God before the time runs out, he will not be placed into hell but into the purgatory with a chance to come to heaven.
The Wise Man desperately tries to remember his pupils of their old faith, but they think he is only wanting to argue with them, as he argued with a monk, the last believing person in the country. He diminished the monk with his arguments. He calls his wife and his children, but all laugh at him. At last he remembers of the Fool, asks him, and finds he believes in God. The Fool proves himself actually wiser than the scholar.
The Fool rings the bell and the pupils come to find their teacher dead. The Fool urges them to wait for the sign their master was praying for. A little winged angel comes out of the mouth of the dead. This vision makes the pupils sink on their knees, converted, so as the Wise Man wished it for them.
AuthorYeats, William Butler. (1865 - 1939).
Full TitleThe Hour Glass.
First PerformedDublin, 1903.
Yeats, W. B. The Hour Glass. (1903). Collected Plays. London: Macmillan, 1953.