Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
"He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven"
Irons and Kingsley play, respectively, a book agent and a book publisher. They reminisce about conversations concerning Yeats, but never actually manage to say anything meaningful about him, or his poetry. They merely decorate their lives with Yeats' name. The authors they publish, on the other hand, publish vain and literate autobiographical novels that sadden the two friends--they know they have not discovered a Yeats, just a few lads that can sell a book or two. The two friends have sold many, many books and they have read many more, but they sense they will not find a Yeats. Instead of finding a Yeats--or even earnestly searching for one, the two friends struggle half-hardheartedly over the love of a woman (Patricia Hodge). All three cast stones at one another--they wanted fire, but all they found were sparks. They live entrapped in bourgeois comforts and predictability.
Well, anyhow. They never did say anything about Yeats. I suppose I might as well. "I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams." The speaker has confessed his poverty--he also suffers from a poverty of words. All the rhymes depend upon pure repetition of entire words, rather than merely repeating sounds. Cloths, light, cloths, light; feet dreams, feet, dreams. He lays these few words before us--tread softly.