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William Butler Yeats

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My response
Added by: Martin Rocek
I like this poem a great deal, but I disagree with it. Here is my answer to Yeats:

How can I, that child running there,

My attention fix

On lips or breasts or flowing hair,

And NOT on politics?

Yet here's an aged poet

That has both loved and pined,

Articulate and passionate

With all his heart and mind,

And maybe what he says is true

Of beauty and its charms,

But O that you might never fear

War and war's alarms!

Added by: Robert Carson Godbey
The rebutal poem in Prof. Rocek's comment is quite witty. But I fear it does not really address Yeat's poem.

Yeats knew well of war, and was certainly well aware of the more "serious" viewpoint suggested by Prof. Rocek's rebuttal poem -- surely the leading quote FROM Mann makes that clear. It sets the ironic tone of the poem, which I think Prof. Rocek's rebuttal seems to miss.

I'm not quite 74 yet - Yeat's age when he wrote this - but I'm old enough to appreciate the experience the poem, in my opinion, addresses. I am amazed in the midst of heated political discussions with friends to see how our attention wanders when a young woman passes by.

Perhaps the suggestion implicit in Prof. Rocek's rebuittal poem, that such attention is shallow, is correct. But I think Yeat's inisght is that it is near universal (for us aging men, at least). And often it is capturing a universal human experience in words that makes poetry great.

Capturing a shallow - but universal - human experience sometimes makes the most interesting poetry. Many poets focus on grand and lofty ideals. Here Yeats captured something less lofty but a little more interesting, in my book.

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