An Irish Airman Foresees His Death Poem by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet. This post features An Irish Airman Foresees His Death Poem by William Butler Yeats.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death Poem William Butler Yeats written in 1918 and first published in the Macmillan edition of The Wild Swans at Coole in 1919. The poem is a soliloquy given by an aviator in the First World War in which the narrator describes the circumstances surrounding his imminent death. The poem is a work that discusses the role of Irish soldiers fighting for the United Kingdom during a time when they were trying to establish independence for Ireland. Wishing to show restraint from publishing political poems during the height of the war, Yeats withheld publication of the poem until after the conflict had ended.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death Poem by William Butler Yeats
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death Poem by William Butler Yeats

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death Poem

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 man, 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.

– William Butler Yeats

Leave a Reply