The light of lights looks always on the motive, not the deed, the shadow of shadows on the deed alone.

William Butler Yeats


The Quote in Other Words

The true focus of the light of lights is always on the intention behind an action, rather than the action itself. Conversely, the darkest shadows are cast solely on the action, not the intention behind it.


Explanation of the Quote

This quote speaks to the idea that our intentions and motivations are more important than our actions. The “light of lights” represents a higher power or moral compass that judges us based on our motives rather than just our deeds. It suggests that even if we do something good, if our intentions were not pure, then it is not truly a good deed. On the other hand, the “shadow of shadows” represents the negative consequences of our actions, which are judged solely on the outcome. This quote challenges us to reflect on our own motives and intentions, and to strive for purity in our actions. It also reminds us that we cannot always control the outcome of our actions, but we can control our intentions. Ultimately, this quote encourages us to be mindful of our motives and to act with integrity and purpose.