Poem Explication: An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

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Poem Explication – “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” In his poem “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” (1919), William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) dramatizes the contemplation between life and death during an air battle at war. The poem is about an Irish Airman, who is preparing to go on a flight or is pondering his fate during a flight, and foresees his death during an air battle. The mood of the poem has a very somber tone to it, yet with very little emotion; considering the man is reflecting upon his life and anticipating his own death. This may be an indication that either the man had a fulfilled life, or a life of tedium, without a bright future to look forward to; either way, the fear of death does not seem to be a major concern for the Airman, more of an impending fact.…show more content…
He had no strong affiliation to his countrymen or a loathing of his enemy. He simply joined the war because of his love of flying as shown in lines 11 and 12 of the poem “A lonely impulse of delight Drove to this tumult in the clouds” (Yeats, 1919, p. 1046). Ultimately, it seems the airman had surrendered to his fate, and subsequent death in the air, with the final two lines of the poem “A waste of breath the years behind – In balance with this life, this death.” (Yeats, 1919, p. 1047). The poem is very well written and has mood and meter that effectively contribute to the meaning and the attitude of the poem. This is important, because of the meaning of the poem; contemplation of life and death, to most, would be extremely dramatic; yet, for this airman it seems as though he feels forlorn and unattached in reflection of his life and eventually, his death. Yeats skillfully uses rhyme, meter, and alliteration throughout the poem “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death”, which in the end adds depth and connection, leaving a lasting impression on the
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