Journal For Poetry Challenge#27/05/2012

Photo credits Copyright_Free_Images_WWI

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Below is a poem written by Yeats and dedicated to one of his friends. It is a beautiful poem with the first line rhyming with the third line and the second line rhyming with the fourth and so on. It is written to reach the reader on two levels, the first, the obvious, an Irish Airman fighting a war he has no part in. Defending people he not akin to against a foe who he has no argument with. He knows that he is about to die.

The second level is that he an Irish man living through the   ” Troubles ” is fighting for his foe, England, against their foe the Germans. He has no real attachment to either. It is a heart rending poem on both levels. If you read up on the conflict that raged on and off between England and Northern Ireland from 1609 to 1966. A long and bloody part of Anglo Irish history. ” Troubles

The senselessness of fighting a foe you do not know for a cause that means nothing to you. Worse to help a nation you are at civil war with. A nation who to your mind is keeping you down and taking away your national rights. It shows the Irony of war.

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AN IRISH AIRMAN FORESEES HIS DEATH

 


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 county 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;
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
By:   William Butler Yeats

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The poem spoken by Shane MacGowen an Irish singer /songwriter of the The Pogues.

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William Butler Yeats 13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and playwright, and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary society.Yeats had a life-long interest in mysticism, spiritualism, occultism and astrology. He read extensively on the subjects throughout his life, became a member of the paranormal research organisation.

He  was born and educated in Dublin but spent his childhood in County Sligo. He studied poetry in his youth and from an early age was fascinated by both Irish legends and the occult.

W.B Yeats Photo from http://bookstains.wordpress.com/

Yeats proposed to 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees (1892–1968), whom he had met through Olivia Shakespear. Despite warning from her friends—”George … you can’t. He must be dead”( he was 51yrs she  accepted,)  and the two were married on 20 October. Their marriage was a success, in spite of the age difference, and in spite of Yeats’ feelings of remorse and regret during their honeymoon. The couple went on to have two children, Anne and Michael. Although in later years he had romantic relationships with other women and possibly affairs, George herself wrote to her husband “When you are dead, people will talk about your love affairs, but I shall say nothing, for I will remember how proud you were.”

Yeats may of had affairs after his marriage but had only had two before firstly with Maud Gonne and secondly with Olivia Shakespear.

More information on W.B Yeats can be found at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._B._Yeats

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Poetry Challenge #7 is to create a journal of links and your reactions to poems by established (living or dead poets.) Details are here.  Example response is here. Mr. Linky for Challenge #7 is directly below:

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