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An Irish Airman Foresees his Death
W B Yeats

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.

on 2010-11-11 02:53 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
This is beautiful-may I put it in my journal?

on 2010-11-11 02:57 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Yes, please do. Hope you are well.

on 2010-11-11 05:43 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
That led me to think of John Gillespie Magee's sonnet 'High Flight', written while training as a Spitfire pilot (he was a Canadian who came to the UK to serve; he sent the poem back to his folks in a letter but never made it back again in person: he was 19 when he died).

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft thro' footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


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