Wb Yeates – An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

-The poem was written in 1918 and first published in the Macmillan edition The Wild Swans at Coole in 1919.

-The poem is a soliloquy given by an aviator in the First World War in which the poet describes the circumstances surrounding his imminent death.

-The poem is a work of Irish Nationalism that discusses the role of Irish soldiers fighting for the United Kingdom during a time when they were trying to establish independence for Ireland

-Yeates restrained publishing political poems during the war and witheld publication until after the war 

-The airman in the poem is believed to be Major Robert Gregory who was a friend of Yeates and the only child of Lady Augusta Gregory

-Yeats uses this poem to portray both emotional and intellectual aspects of the aviator’s choice to fly.

-The repetition of the word “clouds” on the second and twelfth lines of the stanza bookends the aviator’s resolve; he was driven by a “lonely impulse of delight.”

-The poem is paradox and has some reference to a reflection of war itself, the aftermath and effects it has on certain people and the surroundings, adding to this there is almost questioning of why there is creation when there is destruction

-The aviator that Yeates writes as in the first person , is convinced this flight is his last and he questions why he has chosen to fly , he flies for different reasons than most and not out of sense of duty or patriotism

-The poem contains 16 lines of text that is arranged in iambic tetrameter

-It has four grouped quatrains of alternating rhymes : ABABCDCDEFEFGHGH, or four repetitions of the basic ABAB scheme utilizing different rhymes.

-Words were chosen carefully by Yeates to fit the rhyme scheme and make it more appealling to the reader with the attempt to stress every second syllable.

When researching the poem I also found another wordpress blogger that is not part of our English Lit class who also has very helpful notes on the poem his url is “http://movehimintothesun.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/an-irish-airman-foresees-his-death-w-b-yeats/


Wb Yeates – September 1913

September 1913

-The poem glorifies Ireland’s revolutionaries and damns all those who are not willing to do what is right for the citizens of Ireland.

-This poem marks a change in Yeats’ political views; Yeats went from the aristocratic way of idealizing Ireland to taking on a more revolutionary voice.

-The poem is an attack by Yeats on the employers and merchants of Dublin. It was provoked by the lockout of September 1913 in which all members of the ITGWU were locked out by their employers, giving rise to a winter of poverty and confrontation in the city of Dublin and resulting in victory for the employers.

-Yeates adopts an assertive tone contemptuous of the Irish middle class. He criticises their lack of national spirit and that the sole concern of the Irish was money.

-Adding with the above point about money , Yeates shows this in stanza one “but fumble in your greasy till” this refers to the Irish shops tills being that full they had to be covered in grease to fit money in , also “halfpence to the pence” shows all this money is coming in but non is going to the people that need it

-Yeates see’s no romantic Ireland in “September 1913” his Ireland is one of myths and folklore

-Yeates criticises O’Leary has he has no patriotism and altruism just petty selfishness

-The line “until you have dried the marrow from the bone” mean until you have drained away all the life from a nation when concentrating totally on petty Philistine interests and denying the people romance and art, patriotism and heroism.

-The final two lines of the stanza introduce a refrain that becomes continuos throughout the poem in which Yeates speaks about the death of John O’Leary.

-O’Leary represents for Yeates the type of Irishman who commanded respect as a member of the IRB, he had fought in 1867 but he was not just a soldier and patriot, he was an intellectual and a writer. The death of O’Leary marks for Yeats the passing of an era in which cultural and political nationalism paralleled each other. Contemporary Ireland, for Yeats, lacks his patriotic element, the death of O’Leary and the use of the word “grave” cast an air of finality over the message of the opening stanza.

-Stanza two has a different tone as Yeates reminisces the past and shows respect for the Patriots of Ireland’s past

-The final stanza is Yeates questioning whether it was worth the lives of these past patriots to see then Ireland of 1913 which rejects all their values

-Themes : remembering romantic Ireland , disgust with modern Ireland , politics

Wb Yeates – The wild swans at coole

The wild swans at coole

-This poem expresses a mere general sense of time passing and change

-Autumn causes a sense of sadness and sorrow but also a mystery of the scene he looks at

-Coole and the wild swans become a metaphor for loneliness but also the precariousness of beauty, time life and poetic inspiration

-The women , her word of the aristocracy and Yeates debt to her is represented in this poem

-Poem discusses the transience of beauty, passing of time, uncertaintity of what is to come and sadness

-The swans represent something eternal , enduring , noble and majestic despite all of the change

-The swans are both real and part of a dream that which the poet will wake up from and they will go on what they stand for

-They stand for physical and spiritual truths and there departure captures the idea of the diminished self and fading dreams

-The end was a scene of loneliness , Maude Gonne turned him down again

-Swans symbolic of love with Maude Gonne

-Wild swans are what he saw for 20 summers at coole park he wrote the poem in the 19th summer

-The wild swans are also a symbol of Ireland and peace

-The poem is written in present tense , this helps create detail and also adds to idea of solemnity

-This poem encapsulates Yeates and his moods and makes him recognise changes in his life

-Poem begins as elegy of his youth

– The end of the poem takes a closer look at the symbols of nature and the scene in front of him

-Theme : author\poet subject to time and change wild nature under aritisied control of setting

-Structure : mixture of short and long lines adds to sense of tranquility and slow shifting pace. Tempo is slow and formal which matches the appearance of the swan

-Language : no micro imagery , swans metaphor for what is constant and unchanging them flying away , metaphor for poets death

Wb Yeates – Leda and the swan

Leda and the swan

– The poem is Yeates’ interpretation og greek mythology that has been replicated by Leonardo Da Vinci and Michael Angello

– The point of the poem is that it questions , if supernatural intervention comes into human affairs

-The baby that comes from the rape of the women in the poem is Helen of Troy who fought in war and is known as the face that launched 1000 ships its shows war breeds war

-The poem is full of drama and it demonstrates Yeates’ feeling of senial decay

-Its full of symbols that talk about God interferring in human affairs – playing with lives , causes destruction and choas

– Can be compared with ‘strange meeting’ by Wilfred Owen

-Poem has issues of power, domination , violence and war

-Explicit to the poem is the abuse of power

-Themes of horrors of Irish War of independence

-The question to help understand the poem is ‘what is a myth?’. A myth is a story that has a significance for society , it can grow , develop , change and can fit into the lifestyle of another life

-Yeates wanted his poetry to be about mythology of the time and he wishes to turn the world into a myth

-The poem can be seen as 1 of 4 things;Yeates trying to create an intense experience of an event that gave birth to a myth , may be trying to show drama of myth and how they’re haunting to the imagination , might be showing drama of art and how inspiration from previous art results in new art or the possibility of opposites violently meeting and producing a new symbol

-The poem adapts a sonnet form and is split into two sections; first eight lines deal with the rape and the next six lines deals with the conceptive

-Language , seductive , describes a horror

-Structure , 4 lines if sextet change first statement thats made , dramatic grabs attention , the first two lines are a rhetorical question

Wb Yeates – Second Coming

Second coming

-Sums up the aftermath of war; how people were thinking and feeling

-Yeates thought the Second World War would turn into an apocalyptic event

-Yeates saw violence as a new historical phase

-Yeates becomes disillusioned of struggle of nationalism

-Imagery of a sphinx coming out of the ground instead of Jesus

-Yeates believed birth of second coming isn’t a saviour but a monster

-The word “slouches” is used to describe this figure rising out of the ground and it shows disrespect , no welcoming and that its taking over

-The poem has a distinct lack of rhyme which shows despair and chaos

-The poem reflects Yeates interest in acult

-Poem shows a stripping of science , dehumanisation of humans and materialism

-Poem suggest power of forces are at work in history and human destiny that’s supernatural

-The word “gyre” shows turning , another change , more people

-Poem shows nature is out of order and control

-Lack of end stopping gives the poem energy and dynamism

-Theme : disorder and chaos , up evil and apocalyptic vision

-Form : 10 syllables a line , feels like Yeates is trying to write a sonnet but loses it in the second half

-Language : repetition , darkness and doom , language of apocalypse to add to sense of doom

-Rhythm and tone are tense and taught

-The poem ends with a rhetorical question as Yeates doesn’t know what is coming

Wb Yeates video’s

When researching about the poems we are studying from W.b Yeates I found a few audio readings of the poems on YouTube , I feel the audio reading helps you too understand the poem and the rhythm a lot easier. Most of the readings come from a YouTube channel called “SpokenVerse”

A reading of “Easter 1916” http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7RODe9l9SM0

A reading of “the second coming” http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OEunVObSnVM

A reading of “an Irish air,an forsee’s his death” http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dC-5j6Pgj3s

A reading of “fisherman” http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vmMRzghfnN8

A reading of “September 1913” http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xeGe5guvSeY