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An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

2 Pages 481 Words

The idea of war brings to mind a noble cause, or a love of country. This is not so in the poem “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death.” William Butler Yeats uses the speaker of this poem to convey the theme: even in the face of death, joy can be found. The pilot does not hate those that he fights against. Ireland did not have many direct enemies, except for those that kept them from living free. But, being under British rule and fighting for them, especially for a cause that made no sense to the pilot, did not evoke many feelings of love either. When the speaker states of his country that “No likely end will bring them loss Or leave them happier than before,” he knows that Kiltartan Cross and therefore he, will not be affected by the outcome of the war. Kiltartan’s people have nothing left to lose and therefore cannot be brought loss. This shows that the pilot knows that he is fighting for a cause in which he has no stake in. The speaker is characterized with bravery, courage, and humility in saying that “Nor law, nor duty bade me fight, Nor public men, nor cheering crowds.” The pilot is not interested in the honor he will gain and obviously has no sense of patriotic duty to a country that is not his own. The pilot is choosing to fight for a cause he does not understand simply because he wants to fly. Unlike many of his countrymen, the pilot wanted to fly and fight for Britain, which is shown through his “lonely impulse of delight.” The pilot has accepted that he will fight for a cause in which he has no belief only to die “somewhere among the clouds.” He has reached an attitude of indifference which enables him to engage in his love of flying and fight for a lost or misunderstood cause. The pilots disregard for everything else in life except flying illustrates that he may be a young man, in the prime of his life, with no family to look after or other responsibilities. Understanding that death is immine...

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