Friday, September 03, 2010

The widening gyre

For a few months I have viewed my country from afar, through the lens of the European press, and I am reminded of a few lines William Butler Yeats wrote in 1919 about the troubles in his own land:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
And, I admit, loving my country as I do, I teeter towards despair. And so I turn to Jupiter blazing there outside my bedroom window, and the burgeoning tomato plants that have slowly filled my window sill these three damp months, and the daddy-long-legs spiders that have kept me company at my desk. And I think of the very last poem Yeats wrote, at exactly my age, 73, in 1938, the world teetering on the brink of a great and awful cataclysm.
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.