“Politics” by William Butler Yeats (Favorite Poem Project)


“Politics” by William Butler Yeats. 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! I’m Steve Conteagüero. I’m 28 years old. I was born and raised
here in Miami Florida but I work and live in Beaufort, South
Carolina. I’m a United States Marine. I’m an
aviation logistics officer. My wife is a pretty successful mortgage
broker down here in Miami. We live in a sort of weekend
relationship. My superiors I believe are pretty accommodating about letting me
come down here. They respect the fact that she has a
career and I respect that too and so I come down and we have fun. We love to go and we go dancing. We’ll go out and have a drink somewhere. We go out to all the hot
spots here in Miami. We were high school sweethearts. We
graduated and I joined the Marines right out of high
school and then once I reported to my first duty
station which was Hawaii we deployed to the Persian Gulf and so I
went to the Gulf War and that gives you a sort of a sense of
urgency, you know, when you’re in that type of situation. And so while we were out there we decided
that we would be married when I got back. So it’s been 8 years now but it’s like it
was yesterday, you know? (drum roll) (trumpets playing “Star Spangled Banner”) I went to the cemetery today so that we
can pay our respects for the seven persons who died on November 26 of 99′ while trying to make that arduous journey across the straits of Florida to the Keys to try to find freedom. And so the
funeral while it’s a very sad moment becomes a political statement also. And so that ties in you know to my involvement or to my family’s involvement in exile politics. (speaking Spanish) Well my father was a journalist in Cuba
and the thing is he was revolutionary, but then after Castro came
to power, little by little there was a suspicion that he was entertaining joining the
Communist Party and turning their government over to the Communists and to Soviet Russia.
And when my father found out he denounced him on radio on national radio at the time and that was
pretty much the last thing he did. After that he left the country and he came to exile here. So
throughout my childhood I spent that time going to rallies my
father and going to different events. He always maintained that that place as a voice for the exile
community and a anti-communist voice. And that’s where I
got that feeling. Yeats was a guy who wasn’t interested in the political scene
in his home country of Ireland early on kinda like me and then eventually he actually fell in love with a woman
who was a revolutionary and that’s how he got involved. And so after that he became a staunch
revolutionary and yet when he wrote that poem “Politics” it was his final opinion on the
whole matter of the comparison of politics verses
love and a person like William Butler Yeats
chose love. So I respect that very much and I kinda like that cuz he considers
that his parting shot and I think I’m not that old but the fact that I
joined the service and the fact that I have that experience and connection with my father but the fact that I’m also very much in love I can see where he’s right. Where that love is more important. It’s the most important thing. So that’s
how I connected to Yeats and you know and I think that’s going to
be my parting shot too. 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! The “Favorite Poem Project” is made possible by The National Endowment for the Arts. Fostering America’s creativity and investing in our living cultural
heritage. Additional funding has been provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and by the
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

1 thought on ““Politics” by William Butler Yeats (Favorite Poem Project)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *