In the final stanza of the poem, Yeats takes a hard look at his “masterful” imagery, and realizes that though it seemed to grow in “pure mind,” it actually began in the ugly, common experiences of everyday life, which work upon the mind. So in a sense, Cuchulain stemmed from “a mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street.” Wearily but with resolve, Yeats states that he must lie down in the place where poetry and imagery begin: “In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.” The stark physicality of the final line of Yeats’s last great formulation of a poetic credo contrasts shockingly with his first one, in “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” in which he declared his fidelity to “the deep heart’s core.” Throughout his fifty-year literary career, he has delved so deep into the heart’s core that he has discovered, not the lapping waters of Innisfree, but the foul rag and bone shop in which he now lies down. As Yeats wrote in an earlier poem, “The Coming of Wisdom with Time,”
Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.