Friday, March 16, 2012

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death



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.


- W.B. Yeats

(William Butler Yeats was born in Dublin in 1865 and his poetry drew upon Irish mythology and folklore. At the turn of the 1900s he was aligned with the Celtic Revival -- a movement to promote Ireland's heritage in the face of Victorian era influences and English rule in Ireland. Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923 and died in 1939. An Irish Airman Foresees His Death is from his 1917 collection of poems, The Wild Swans at Coole.)