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Barack Obama and Joe Biden haven't stopped quoting WB Yeats since 2008

They <3 him.

Obama Biden

LAST NIGHT, PRESIDENT Barack Obama awarded Vice President Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

You’ve probably seen the heartwarming video by now, but fine, we’ll watch it again. Twist our arm, why don’t you?

(If you can’t see the video, please click here.)

Both Biden and Obama delivered speeches before the presentation and took it upon themselves to quote two of Ireland’s most celebrated poets, W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney.

In fact, Obama joked that he had to quote Yeats as Biden had already quoted from Seamus Heaney.

As Yeats put it — because I had to quote an Irish poet, and Seamus Heaney was taken — “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”

This is not the first time Obama and Biden have quoted Sligo’s most renowned poet/the bane of every Irish Leaving Cert student’s life

In fact, you could probably reasonably describe the President and Vice President as Yeats fanboys such is the frequency with which they cite his work.

Victim Politics TFW you remember a really good Yeats poem. Source: AP/Press Association Images

For example, here’s an excerpt from a speech President Obama delivered at the 2011 National and State Teachers of the Year

In the words of one of my favorite poets, William Butler Yeats, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”  Teachers here today, and thousands like them, are surrounded every day by young people who will shape our future.

Obama Teachers Source: AP/Press Association Images

And here’s the moving conclusion to Obama’s statement regarding the passing of Beau Biden, the son of Joe Biden

“I have believed the best of every man,” wrote the poet William Butler Yeats, “And find that to believe it is enough to make a bad man show him at his best or even a good man swing his lantern higher.” Beau Biden believed the best of us all.  For him, and for his family, we swing our lanterns higher.

He also paraphrased The Second Coming in a speech delivered in Germany in April 2016.

And you see increasing intolerance in our politics.  And loud voices get the most attention.  This reminds me of the poem by the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats, where the best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity.

Germany Obama Source: AP/Press Association Images

And whipped out some Yeats while introducing Enda in 2015

Later that day, Enda presented him with a book of Yeats’ poetry

Ooh Enda, you big lick.

Obama Ireland Source: AP/Press Association Images

But it wasn’t just Obama who was a fan of Yeats. Here’s Vice President Joe Biden applying Easter, 1916 to what was going on in the Middle East in 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a quote I often use — and if you excuse me for quoting an Irish poet.  I quoted this to the speaker when we had breakfast.  It was an Irish poet named William Butler Yeats who describing the transition taking place in his Ireland in 1916 wrote a poem that had the following line in it, a line that was intended to describe his Ireland at the moment.
But I would respectfully suggest it describes the Middle East and the world today even better than it described his country at the moment.  And here’s the line from that poem.  He said, “All has changed, changed utterly.  A terrible beauty has been born.”

Turkey Biden Source: AP/Press Association Images

And, er, here he is doing it again in India a few months later.

If you excuse me quoting an Irishman, but a fellow named William Butler Yeats, my favorite poet, writing a poem about his Ireland in the year 1916, called Easter Sunday 1916, something Indians and Irishmen hold in common, trying to rise with the British.  It was the first rebellion in Ireland in the 20th century.  And he wrote that poem called Easter Sunday 1916.
And in that poem there’s a line that he attempted to describe his Ireland at the time, but I would argue it better describes the state of the world as we find it today.
He said, all’s changed; changed utterly.  A terrible beauty has been born.  All’s changed, changed utterly.  The world has changed utterly just since I entered public life, and matter of fact, in the last 20 years.  And there’s a need for new rules of the road — both strategically and economically.

Biden Ohio Ice Cream Source: AP/Press Association Images

And yet again in April 2012!

Okay, Joe. We get it. It’s a good poem.

yaf Source: White House

In fact, Joe Biden also used “All changed, changed utterly” here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here and finally here.

You could say that all changed, changed utterly apart from Biden’s speeches.

giphy Source: Giphy

In all seriousness, we’ll miss these two and their Yeats-loving ways

(Even if we’re sad that they never performed a dramatic recitation of The Lake Isle of Inishfree.)

Obama Biden Source: Susan Walsh

Because if one thing is for certain, it’s that all has changed, changed utterly

*gulp*

Trump Source: Evan Vucci

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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