Saturday, 17 October 2015

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by W. B. Yeats is a poem of war where the speaker or the voice in the poem opened-up to his readers that his end will soon come through the flying of war plan. He claimed that he was flying the war jet for personal delight, not for love of fighting or for the hatred he had for his opponents and he gave instances to support his claim: "Nor law, nor duty bade me fight/ Nor public m
en, nor cheering crowds" (line 9-10) "The years to come seemed waste of breath/ A waste of breath the years behind" (line 14-15)

Yeats was born in Dublin 1865 but died in 1939, his poems are mostly of war like this. "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" is a poem with end rhyme of ABABCDCD pathern. The poem is one stanza, with simple language, a worry mood and a sad tone.

[ Another Poet Born In Dublin Is Richard Trench With Poem Examined

Analysis of Evening Hymn by Richard Chenevix Trench ]

There are figures of speech like oxymoron "this life, this death" repetition "waste of breath" "kiltartan" alliteration "balanced all, brought all" "cheering crowds" personification "nor law, nor duty bade me fight" Antithesis "those that I fight I do not hate/ those that I guard I do not love" metaphor "A waste of breath the years behind" paralelism "My country is kiltartan's Cross/ My countrymen kiltartan's poor".

There are themes of shaky patriotism, risk in delight, pessimism, fate, etc.
The poet found reasons that surpassed the act of patriotism, he realized that the only thing that kept him going through the war was just the delight of flying a war jet. "A lonely impulse of delight/ Drove to this tumult in the clouds".
He figured out that what he delighted himself with, will lead to his death but the fun of flying the fighter jet did not allow him to stop.
Line 1-2 and 14-15, showed how strongly the poet's pessimism had grown. He was so certain that flying will bring him death because no meaningful reward was in it where the past years were waste of effort and the years to come would bring no reward for flying fighter jet.
He had no better choice than to resign to fate.

(1) Explain the statement "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death; was fighting not because of patriotism"

(2) Examine the poet's mood in "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death"

(3) What messages are put across by the poet in "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death"


Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings soaring high)


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