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By close examination of "An Irish Airman Forsees his Death" and one other appropriately selected poem, discuss the effectiveness of the poetic methods used by Yeats in his presentation of heroic figures from his own lifetime.

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By close examination of "An Irish Airman Forsees his Death" and one other appropriately selected poem, discuss the effectiveness of the poetic methods used by Yeats in his presentation of heroic figures from his own lifetime. Consider * Why Yeats chose to write about these figures * The ways in which the form and structure of the poems contribute to Yeats' presentation of heroic figures * Yeats' language - including imagery - and tone in presenting heroic figures. The poet W.B Yeats lived and was writing during a period of Irish history which is infamous for its rebellious historical characters and figures of public admiration. Yeats expresses his feelings with regard to a personal heroic figure in "An Irish Airman Forsees his Death". Yeats then similarly tackles this subject in poems such as "Easter 1916" where he addresses his attitude more broadly towards the heroic, but public figures involved in the rising of 1916. Yeats reveals his explicit admiration for the men whom he writes about in these poems through his dignified and respectful tone. ...read more.


The undertone of the futility of war is more profound. Yeats wants to state that Gregory was driven to war out of a different force that did not involve passionate patriotism, but a deeper impulse. The poem expresses a level of Protestant patriotism which Yeats' finds admirable in his personal hero and Yeats establishes that Major Gregory was a man, proud of his identity. Gregory identifies him self as Irish: "My country is Kitltartan Cross, My countrymen Kiltartan's poor" The heavy use of repetition here emphasises Yeats' desire to express Gregory's noble qualities, as a man who values both his country and his countrymen. Yeats presents Robert Gregory as a clear sighted figure. Through Gregory's voice Yeats highlights that Gregory is very aware of the fact that his death in action would not really affect his country and those who share his nationality but do not know him personally, neither would it have an impact on his opposition: "No likely end could bring them loss Or leave them happier than before." ...read more.


Yeats' use of steady rhythm and caesura effectively communicate Gregory's deliberate and rational mode of thinking. It is the final section of this poem which seems to capture the sensibilities in Robert Gregory's persona that Yeats' believes the epitome of heroism. As an artist Yeats embraced all that was spiritual, sensual and unrestricted. Gregory has an overwhelming desire to encounter the heightened emotion that the experience of war would bring, it is this aspirational quality that intrigues Yeats most of all, and affirms his view of Gregory as the ultimate hero. Yeats expresses Robert Gregory's belief that nothing that would follow this experience of war would be so heightened, and so it would be worth losing his life to live this moment of sensual glory: "The years to come seemed waste of breath, A waste of breath the years behind In balance with this life, this death." In the final line of the poem Yeats affirms Gregory's heroic qualities and also expresses a paradoxical and typically artistic contention. Although this experience would result in the end of Gregory's life, the moment preceding his death would be the epitome of all moments. ...read more.

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3 star(s)

This essay offers an effective analysis of one poem and is especially good at conveying the meaning and tone. Some perceptive comments on form, structure and language are made, though this area could be a bit more developed. A slight weakness of the essay is its inconsistent and often improper use of the apostrophe.
A major weakness is that the essay title clearly asks for commentary on one other poem, and only the briefest attention is given to 'Easter 1916'.

Marked by teacher Val Shore 27/03/2012

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