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An Irish Airman Foresees his Death Summary & Analysis
by William Butler Yeats

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“An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” was written by the Irish poet W.B. Yeats in 1918. Told from the perspective of an Irish fighter pilot in World War I, the poem is critical of both the war in general and specifically of British rule over Ireland (which lasted until 1922). The speaker argues that the outcome of the war is ultimately meaningless for his small community in western Ireland, and that he feels no hatred towards his enemies nor love for the British. He pursues the dangerous pleasure of airborne combat not out of duty or patriotism, and is instead driven only by a "lonely impulse of delight." The poem also serves as a memorial to Robert Gregory, an Irish airman and the son of one of Yeats's close friends who was killed in WWI at the age of 36.

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