Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

"An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" is a patriotic poem, but patriotic in a very local way. The speaker doesn't love those he protects, by which he probably means the people of Great Britain, as opposed to just Ireland. So, he's kind of anti-English, but he's definitely pro-Irish. And not just Irish, but Kiltartan. His real loyalty is to a small barony (sort of like a county) in Ireland. It would be like saying, "I don't care too much about my fellow Americans, but I do care a lot about my people back home in Los Angeles, California." Represent!

Questions About Patriotism

  1. What effect does using the word "Kiltartan" twice have?
  2. What is the significance of the word "Irish" in the poem's title?
  3. Is there anything obviously patriotic about the speaker's strange "impulse"? If so, what? If not, why not?
  4. Does the speaker's loyalty to his small Irish home town make him a bad citizen of Ireland or Great Britain? Why do you think so?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Like your tax return, patriotism comes in many different forms. The Irish airman, while not too crazy about Great Britain, sure loves his hometown.

This poem is all about Irish nationalism (it is Yeats, after all). There's an Irish speaker, a strange place name that sounds really Irish (Kiltartan), and an obvious dislike for the English.

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