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Monday, July 19, 2010

William Butler Yeats: An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

Shane McGowan renders here for us a brief poem by Yeats: a poem that is astonishing, it is wiping us like a koan.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death: I found the poem firstly as a motto for one of my favorite books: My War Gone By, I Miss It So, by Anthony Loyd. I will come to that book many times, I hope.

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 men, 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.

I found a splendid interpretation of the poem: it is a waste of time and energy to live in the past, the same is to live always for what might be; all that matters is to live fully the present; the present like your last moment.

(William Butler Yeats)



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