Please provide a detailed explanation of the theme in "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death."

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one of the most overriding themes present in the poem is the futility in war.  Yeats constructs a persona of the airman as one whose death is not a glorious one in defense of country, ideal, or the notion of warfighting.  It is not a Romantic view of the military death.  It is a very realistic one in which the death of one soldier is a lonely one, devoid of much in way of connection to other elements.  For Yeats, one of the primary thematic purposes in the poem is to bring out how the death count in war is illogical, something to which attention must be placed.  The death of the soldier is not going to change anything and the only guaranteed that results is the futility of war. In foreseeing his own death, the Irish Airman recognizes his own insignificance in the cog of the war machinery.  It is to this point in terms of expressing a sense of horror of war.  In bringing this to the forefront with a recasting of the Classical or Romantic notion of the war hero, Yeats' theme of war's futility is haunting and inescapable.  This theme goes very far in defining the modern condition of war and those who are victimized by it.

redrocket88's profile pic

redrocket88 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

The title immediately identifies subject and content - simply without elaborating.

This poem explores the aspect of the 'human condition.' Confronts the reader with a perpective on life/death. Its a eulogy, reflective - a speech that recognises the death.

It was composed for Lady Gregory to honour her son Major Robert Gregory - served in world war one in the air force.

It focuses on the idea of death-portrays feelings a soldier might have when facing death andf honours Gregory's life.

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