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 Kiltarten Cross,
My countrymen Kiltarten'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 a waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.


William Butler Yeats, The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, The Macmillan Company, 1956.