Shan Yang

Wei Feng



In memory of Lady Gregory’s son Robert Gregory, Yeats composed four elegies: “Shepherd and Goatherd,” “In Memory of Major Robert Gregory,” “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death,” and “Reprisals” (unpublished). In the first two poems Yeats extolls the ideal man Major Gregory, while in the politically charged “Reprisals,” he assaults Robert’s irresponsible individualistic behavior of joining the army. This article maintains that the relevant historical facts, as indicated by the conflicting symbols in “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death,” cannot be possibly reduced to metaphysics. Thus, contextualizing this poem within the history of the Irish War of Independence and World War I, this article revisits the conflict between symbols that reconstruct history. Through a close analysis of the process of construction, the article finally reaches a conclusion that the emotional reverse along with the conflicting symbols of identity anxiety and subjective crisis are reflections of Yeats’s exploration of poetic compensation out of the predicament by drawing spiritual power from Occultism.


KEYWORDS: “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death,” conflicts of symbols, identity reconstruction, subjective crisis, poetic compensation



摘  要




DOI: 10.30395/WSR.202306_16(2).0005


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