W. B. Yeats, poets we like and live with – Politics by W.B.




Yeats has always been a favorite of what I call true poets. Luckily he was not beaten out of me in any school. Never had a Yeats exam. Although in university where I learned to love Shakespeare by being taught how too  read him, I was also exposed to Yeats in a more formal setting. But Yeats had come to me long before – O human child, Wandering Angus, Byzantium…. always on my fathers bookshelves or on the Clancy brother records. And at that early time in my relation ship with my now dearest partner – you know when signs, coincidence and such were so import to see if we really matched – I definitely   noticed my old friend, Yeats upon her bookshelves and took it for a good omen.

So while looking up Byzantium, I found this little gem – the last poem. Considered by some to be the last written before his death. I had never read before or if I did it faded long ago into the country not fit for old me. No matter why or how I’ll happily take it. Always wonderful to find a gem even if it might be simply  misplaced – still feels new to me.

My daughter is “doing” Sailing to Byzantium for her Leaving Cert exam.  She was happy when  I told her I’d bet her 100.00 that even they wouldn’t be able to kill it for her.

See that’s the thing about true poets, they are very subversive. not because they are radical or violent of shocking though they can be – its because they are the archetypal  human voice that always speaks to those with ears to hear and even those who don’t have such ears? It sounds kinda good to them too.  So a little gem from ol me to whoever you. Enjoy –



By William Butler Yeats 

‘In our time the destiny of man presents its meanings in political terms.’

How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics,
Yet here’s a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there’s a politician
That has both read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war’s alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms.


W. B. Yeats, “Politics” from Last Poems (1938-1939). Copyright © 1939 by W. B. Yeats.  Reprinted by permission of Scribner (Simon & Schuster, Inc.).


“Politics” is a poem by Irish poet William Butler Yeats written on May 24, 1938. It was composed during the time of the Spanish Civil War as well as during the pre-war period of Adolf Hitler‘s Third Reich in Germany. The poem hints at the political situations of Rome (or Italy), Russia, and Spain, but ultimately discusses topics more relevant to private human interaction rather than public, or political situations


Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Merel Burggraaf  On January 12, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Beautiful poem :). I didn’t know it yet, although I am a true Yeats fan. I love his work and would love to get to know more. Well chosen poem by the way, in these times…


    • pdlyons  On January 12, 2016 at 11:21 am

      it is unfortunately timeless. as i said ihad never read it til the day i posted about it. the book has been on our shelves since 1995! cheers

      Liked by 1 person

      • Merel Burggraaf  On January 12, 2016 at 11:28 am

        Haha, well I can imagine how that happens in life. I bought a Yeats book in Dublin last October and although I have read some of it… I wonder when I will have read the whole book . Might take 20 years 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  • Una  On February 5, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Beautiful poem Peter. I haven’t seen this one before. Thank you. I love Yeats. Not always – studying him in university drove a wedge between us but we made up since – found our ‘archetypal’ grove a bit like you say – unhampered by academia!


    • pdlyons  On February 6, 2016 at 11:12 am

      glad to hear from you! happy to hear you and WB have made up. cheers.


  • pdlyons  On January 10, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    Reblogged this on Pdlyons's Explorations.


  • House of Heart  On January 10, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    Lovely article. Byzantium may be one of the most beautiful poems ever and Yeats the best of our modern poets.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: