aircraft-1813731_1921

I know that I shall meet my fate,
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.


This a poem by William Butler Yeats, a great poet and Irish nationalist. The sentiment expressed here is stark, yet hauntingly elegant. The moment before his death seems to have accorded the Airman such startling clarity, that he met his end with complete equanimity.

Pleased

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15 thoughts on “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

      1. It’s hard to not see the truth in his words: “those that I fight I do not hate / those that I guard I do not love.” Poetry just needs one to be open minded and sometimes the desire to dig through a rabbit hole to discover what hides beneath. Specifically with poems such as T.S. Elliot’s “The Wasteland” which I despise!

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  1. These lines “Nor law, nor duty bade me fight, / Nor public men, nor cheering crowds, / A lonely impulse of delight / Drove to this tumult in the clouds” show the mindset of those who went off to fight in the Great War. There was a sense that it was a grand adventure, that war made boys into men, that it added to your prestige. They didn’t know Verdun, the Brusilov Offensive, the Somme all awaited them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, that is probably true of almost every boy who ever went to war. They come back disillusioned and damaged. I have the honor of working with veterans and most of them had to work very hard to put themselves back together.

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