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AQA GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Power and Conflict

pdodd | Sunday December 14, 2014

Categories: KS4, AQA GCSE, AQA GCSE English Literature 2015, Paper 2: Modern Texts and Poetry

Guide Navigation

  • AQA GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | How to Use
  • AQA GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Contents of Poems
  • AQA GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Love and Relationships
  • AQA GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Natural World
  • AQA GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Power and Conflict
  • AQA GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Time and Place
  • AQA GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Youth and Age
  • AQA GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Glossary

Conflict and Power

A

This poem by W.B. Yeats looks at the experiences of a pilot in World War One

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 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 man, 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.

What is this poem about?

In this poem an Irish aviator in World War One describes the background and circumstances of his inevitable death. In this explicit statement about war the speaker of the poem declares that he will die fighting amongst the clouds and he ponders on why he has chosen to fly. His view of the enemy as one he does not hate, or those who he guards as those he does not love, leads to a discussion on why he signed up, concluding that it was on impulse and the seizing of an opportunity. This thoughtful poem looks at conscience and the futilities of war through a personal soliloquy, with the reader. The writer’s political views come home very strongly in contrast with the patriotism shown by other war poets. The theme of personal...


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