3 Squadron POEMS

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An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

By William Butler YEATS
(Written 1918.  Published after the end of the war, in 1919.)

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.

No 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.

Editor’s Note:
This classic war poem, regarding the spirituality of self-sacrifice, stirs many emotions. 
In particular though, Yeats invokes the popular yearning in Ireland for Independence, which had been forestalled politically by the outbreak of WW1 and was further complicated by the
Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin.

The photo heading this piece is one of the famous images from the “Cockburn-Lange Collection”. 
While these were later revealed to be
fakes, the skilled model-maker who produced them had been a pilot in the RFC and his pictures attained a high degree of “realism” that could not be matched by official photos of the time.

3 Squadron POEMS

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