Admiration is kind of a funny theme in "Easter, 1916," in the sense that Yeats seems like he's always on the verge of admiring the people who died in the Irish Uprising. But at the end of the day, he can never seem to take that final step and say, "These people were heroes and I was a coward for not dying with them!" But hey, many people have heard of Yeats, and the fighters Yeats mentions in this poem are all fairly obscure. So in the end, history was pretty good to Yeats.
When he claims that everything has ben "Transformed utterly" (39), Yeats means that the dead fighters have succeeded in making Ireland a better place.
Deep down, Yeats admires the dead fighters because he thinks people will remember them longer than they will remember him.
While he may not be sure about whether he admires the Irish fighters, Yeats can definitely get behind the fact that these people totally sacrificed themselves for something they believed in. In doing so, they show a level of passion and courage that Yeats doesn't seem to have himself. He's content to stand back and write poetry about what's happening around him, and so here we are reading "Easter, 1916."
Ultimately, Yeats thinks that the sacrifice of the Irish fighters was foolish, since all they had to do was wait for the war to be over before Ireland got its independence.
Yeats admires people who sacrifice themselves for a cause because this is something he'd never do.
It might be hard to see at first, but Yeats does have some principles. He doesn't necessarily have the same principles as the people who died in the Easter Uprising, but that doesn't mean he has none of his own. Yeats seems to be more interested in long, long-term historical changes than he is in individual battles, like those that took place during "Easter, 1916." You might not agree with his stand-back-from-history-and-write-poetry-about-it approach to life. But at least the dude's consistent about his beliefs.
Deep down, Yeats questions his own principles as a poet and fears that he might be a coward compared to the people who died in the Easter Uprising.
In this poem, it doesn't look like Yeats has any principles at all. In fact, he can't even explain why he's writing this poem to begin with.
Throughout "Easter, 1916," Yeats has a way of talking about the dead Irish fighters as though they'll be able to live forever because of their sacrifice. But on the other hand, he also recognizes that they're dead and gone, possibly for no good reason. The question of immortality is one of the main places in this poem where you really see Yeats struggling to make sense of what has happened in the Easter Uprising. On the one hand, it showed the heroism of the people who fought and died. On the other hand, it was a strategic nightmare that didn't accomplish anything in the long run.
Yeats doesn't actually believe that the fighters have been immortalized by their bravery. In fact, he clearly says that all we really know for sure is that these people were once alive and now they're dead.
Yeats doesn't believe in immortality at all—not even for his own poetry. In the end, he thinks we'll all be forgotten some day and it'll be as if we never existed.