Do you agree that the airman sees his life and impending death as significant for his country in "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This very poignant poem by William Butler Yeats is a metaphor for many soldiers in World War I who found themselves in a vision that breaks into pieces as they realize the senselessness of war and the fatality under which they now live.  Sensing his doom, the airman ponders the futility of dying as he is disconnected from all involved in the war,

Those that I fight I do not hate,

Those that I guard I do not love

Finally, the airman realizes that his "lonely impulse of delight" in which he enlisted, swept by the excitement of patiotism is "a waste of breath," for his loyalty is only to Kiltartan Cross, a place where his countrymen are unaffected by this war in which he is involved;  for they will suffer neither loss nor happiness as a result of the battles:

No likely end could bring them loss

Or leave them happier than before.

Thus, his death will be of no significance whatsoever to his countrymen.

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