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An Irishman Foresees His Death William Butler Yeats ..

I have read with interest your and others interpretations of "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" by Yeats. English is not my native language, so I will not venture a lengthy interpretation of my own. However, there is one thing that has not been mentioned and that I find particularly beautiful with this poem. For an aircraft to fly, the forces of lift and gravitation have to be in balance. This fundamental concept is present in the poem in several places: The uplifting forces of love, happiness and life are balanced by the gravitational pull of hate, loss and death. To me, Yeats manages to give the whole poem wings.

A summary of “An Irish Airman foresees his Death” in William Butler Yeats's Yeats’s Poetry

Yeats knew this and so did all the airman of the day, Irish or otherwise. Yet, the airman in this poem, was willing to risk almost certain death, not for duty, honor, glory or out of any sense of obligation and knowing that neither his survival nor his death would make any difference to the outcome of the war.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death Essay - Anti Essays

"An Irish Airman Forsees His Death" I know that I shall meet my fate Somewhere among ..

Consider his nationality. What kind of Irish is our hero, whose own people have no meaning to him? What kind of person doesn't love his friends nor hate his foes, and past and future are all futile for him? He is so remote from the classical knight, having no beloved one nor any target, and the call of duty, the law, leadership or any other ideal or motive are nothing to him. What motivates this man, why is he going out to fly (flight has two meanings)? The answer is: A lonely impulse of delight. His only objective is – himself. Delight, personal satisfaction. He flies solitarily to seek delight with himself, with no wish for any fruit and no interest in result. Put clearly - to masturbate in the sky. And in an astonishing parallel to Freud's Thanatos, death desire, in this way he wishes to die. His death is his final orgasm.

I read the interpretations of Yeats "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death" and while some of the insights were interesting, others were a stretch. The lines "Those that I fight I do not hate, Those that I guard I do not love" should be taken literally, at face value. Yeats was an Irish nationalist. Ireland at the time of WW1 was still a part of the UK, though treated as a red headed stepchild at best by England. At the outbreak of war, there was a split within Irish nationalism; the official position of the leadership of the Irish Volunteers was to support the British effort to recruit Irishmen for the war effort, on the basis that after the war, Home Rule would be granted to Ireland along with Commonwealth status. The Sinn Fein (Ourselves Alone) position was one of complete seperation from Britain; not Commonwealth status but an independent Irish Republic. The split gave birth to the IRA and the Easter Rising of 1916. In that rebellion, key points in Dublin were seized by rebels, a Republic was proclaimed and Irish rebels killed British troops with Mauser rifles supplied by Germany. Sir Roger Casment, who had been Knighted by the Queen, was arrested on the west coast trying to rendezvous with a German ship carrying more Mausers. He had come ashore in a rubber raft from a German sub. To Irish nationalists, the enemy of their enemy was their friend. Their enemy was England. Consider Yeats lines and in fact the entire poem in that light and I think we are closer to the truth of his meaning. Even those who enlisted in the war effort had mixed emotions .....but then, as always, war has a lure for young men. The irony is that the radical nationalists wanted no part of any foreign war, but they were quite willing, even eager, to kill Crown soldiers. That attitude became the official policy of Ireland once they won their freedom. They were nuetral in WW2 and that is still their policy.

WB Yeats: An Irish Airman Forsees His Death - BBC

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death Analysis - Term Paper

Since I added my interpretation of 'An Irish Airman . . .', several people have written me with their comments. I would like to thank them for sharing their knowledge and point of view with me. I have learned a lot from them. I've posted the comments of those who have given permission to do so below. I would like to make clear, however, that, like my own interpretation, it is just that, and some individuals make statements that I have not fact checked. This page is not meant to be the gospel of W.B. Yeats. Read what is on this page knowing that not everything written here is the verified truth.
Iftach Spector writes:The poem is seemingly tragic: a young knight, going with open eyes to die in what he sees as meaningless war. In my opinion this view masks the true meaning of Yeats' text. There is something else, complex, in the text. Sober re-reading shows that Yeats doesn't love his hero at all. Consider his nationality. What kind of Irish is our hero, whose own people have no meaning to him? What kind of person doesn't love his friends nor hate his foes, and past and future are all futile for him? He is so remote from the classical knight, having no beloved one nor any target, and the call of duty, the law, leadership or any other ideal or motive are nothing to him. What motivates this man, why is he going out to fly (flight has two meanings)? The answer is: A lonely impulse of delight. His only objective is – himself. Delight, personal satisfaction. He flies solitarily to seek delight with himself, with no wish for any fruit and no interest in result. Put clearly - to masturbate in the sky. And in an astonishing parallel to Freud's Thanatos, death desire, in this way he wishes to die. His death is his final orgasm.Yeats, in an outstanding sensitiveness, has identified before psychoanalysis and 50 years before the "banality of evil", a modern psychopath: the modern technocrat, the moral autistic, the "Homo Faber" interested in the doing rather than the causes and the ends. I can easily see why all interpretations miss this hard message. Fighter flight - in our culture and collective consciousness - is the ultra-knightly profession, where "the few", "the right stuff" to whom "the many owe" is a top. But under this knight's cloak hide a robot, masked by glamorous profession and a forthcoming end. Yeats, he neither worships his hero nor mourns his death.Richard Walsh writes:It's Remembrance Day today and it made me reflect on this poem. As an Irishman who has lived in England for many years. I think the issue for Major Gregory is the fact that he is part of the ascendancy or Anglo-Irish. He is not English, not one of "Those that I guard I do not love" and in Ireland he is not part of the Catholic Irish nationalist majority on the island. While his countrymen may be "Kiltartan's poor" he is far removed from them by religion, class and history. In the sky as a pilot he is free of the difficult issues of his homeland and his class. As others have written this poem was written against the background of the Easter Rising. Yeats wrote of the rising in his poem Easter 1916 that "All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born" this "terrible beauty" signalled the end of Major Gregory's worldThe poem is politically charged by trying to eliminate politics. Yeats is trying to make Major Gregory Irish, when in fact the Major Gregory felt akin to England and empire. Lady Gregory was somewhat separate from the Irish separatist movement, and the poem tries to make the Gregorys more Irish. The poem says Gregory is Irish, not British, even though Gregory's own self-identity is the opposite, but calling him Irish is politically helpful for Yeats and Lady Gregory. The poem puts Yeats into the aircraft and is more about him than Gregory.Damien Haining writes: There is a deep existential core to this poem, a commentary on the manner in which one makes choices about life and an implied claim that such choices are, by their very nature, few and simple. For example, if I choose to join the army then I can make subsequent choices within that social setting, to the extent they are permitted, but they all occur as derivatives of the original decision.What determines the direction of that original decision is what I might term the "original sentiment," an affective impulse expressive of the basic character or moral inclination of the person. The "moral" aspect I refer to here is used in the broadest sense as an expression of a person's primitive perceptions of the world and their responsiveness to it.The same physical decision (to become an airman) may reflect different moral expressions reflecting different "original sentiments".Thus, if I, unconsciously and primitively, perceive the world as untrustworthy and hostile to me then I may choose to be an airman to avoid conscription, trench warfare and physical discomfort. If I perceive the world as a process of social identification then I may choose to be an airman to identify with my nation against its enemies. If I perceive the world as pre-eminently a social hierarchy then I may choose to be an airman to identify with soldiers having a glamorous or "hero" status in the eyes of the public. And, as many argue in the case of the Irish Airman, I may eschew all social considerations, a world gone mad with war, even the inevitability of death, and take delight in the joy of the skies.This has a lot of appeal as an explanation yet it is not what Yeats is saying. A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds.The Airman does not obtain his delight from the clouds. Rather, he chooses the clouds as an expression of his "impulse of delight." The joy comes first, the clouds after. Moreover, the delight is not just a feeling but an "impulse", a movement of his being. It is an expression of his inner self from some deep, unconscious level. How the Airman found or released this "delight" is never conveyed. He tells us that it is not derived from his social identity -- not enemies, countrymen, duty or crowds. There is no evidence of any reasoned analysis or personal reflection producing his "lonely impulse of delight." Rather, it is presented to us as an epiphany, a spontaneous emergence of his inner being, a simultaneous discovery and release of an existential judgement on life itself.The Airman also accepts without rancour that there is "tumult in the clouds". I am reminded here of Socrates and Jesus who accepted death sentences from what they fully recognized to be unjust societies acting in bad faith. In a sense they affirm their moral commitment to those corrupt societies, with all their failings, even unto death, while still holding true to their moral principles as supreme expressions of their "original sentiment". It's like a partner who stays with an undeserving spouse out of love.Humans are affective creatures driven by simple impulses and we often gather supporting explanations for basic decisions at an unconscious level after the fact of those decisions. We may even believe that such decisions are "rational", but as modern scientists find when they examine brain scans, decision making takes place before it enters the conscious realm. Thus the primitive generator of existential decisions is neither reason nor even emotions but a basic character disposition of the person that tends to persist through life and determines many derivative choices. I see the Irish Airman as a man who acknowledges to himself and the world that he has a core which is free from whatever is around him. He chooses to let the world in on his little secret: that he is a person who believes in joy without reason, unrestrained joy untrammelled by society, that he has kept it alive and now presents it to the world so that they can see who he really is and do with him what they will.It is a similar sentiment to that of Paul Baumer from Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front:"I am very calm. Let the months come, and the years, they'll take nothing more from me, they can take nothing more from me. I am so alone and so devoid of any hope that I can confront them without fear. Life, which carried me through all these years, in still there in my hands and in my eyes. Whether or not I have mastered it, I do not know. But as long as life is there it will make its own way, whether my conscious self likes it or not." J Gerrity writes: I read the interpretations of Yeats "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death" and while some of the insights were interesting, others were a stretch. The lines "Those that I fight I do not hate, Those that I guard I do not love" should be taken literally, at face value. Yeats was an Irish nationalist. Ireland at the time of WW1 was still a part of the UK, though treated as a red headed stepchild at best by England. At the outbreak of war, there was a split within Irish nationalism; the official position of the leadership of the Irish Volunteers was to support the British effort to recruit Irishmen for the war effort, on the basis that after the war, Home Rule would be granted to Ireland along with Commonwealth status. The Sinn Fein (Ourselves Alone) position was one of complete seperation from Britain; not Commonwealth status but an independent Irish Republic. The split gave birth to the IRA and the Easter Rising of 1916. In that rebellion, key points in Dublin were seized by rebels, a Republic was proclaimed and Irish rebels killed British troops with Mauser rifles supplied by Germany. Sir Roger Casment, who had been Knighted by the Queen, was arrested on the west coast trying to rendezvous with a German ship carrying more Mausers. He had come ashore in a rubber raft from a German sub. To Irish nationalists, the enemy of their enemy was their friend. Their enemy was England. Consider Yeats lines and in fact the entire poem in that light and I think we are closer to the truth of his meaning. Even those who enlisted in the war effort had mixed emotions .....but then, as always, war has a lure for young men. The irony is that the radical nationalists wanted no part of any foreign war, but they were quite willing, even eager, to kill Crown soldiers. That attitude became the official policy of Ireland once they won their freedom. They were nuetral in WW2 and that is still their policy.Mark McCann writes:

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