Death in the Poem an Irish Airman Foresees His Death
Randall Jarrell, one of the most famous American poet, told us the story of a ball turret Gunner’s death. Similarly, William Butler Yeats, one of the foremost Irish poet back in 20th-century, depicted the undergoing situation where this poor Irish soldier was dying in a war. Although the themes appear to be about death, both poem discussed issues with violence, morality, and humanity. However, the background is different: one is dying and the other’s already dead.
In the poem The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner, Jarrell said, “When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.”
Death is an extremely major issue of one’s live. It signs the person’s life is over. He or she can on longer enjoy the sunshine, cannot eat and drink , cannot feel anything any more, and cannot even move. Everything is terminated. Death is sad and regretful. However, none of those emotions were showed in the story. “they” treated the Gunner as a tool, instead of a real human being. His death was the same as if a toy was broken. They would always be a substituted one. “they” washed him out of the turret. No one would ever care about his death. The Gunner was like a dirt that needed to be taken care of.
Similarly, Yeats suggested in his poem An Irish Airman Forsees his death,
“The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind”,
This man had no hope or wishes for the future. He knew that no one would ever feel sad about his death. No one cares. It’s a waste. In fact, not even after his death, but also when he was alive, no one had ever worried about him. At this point, this airman was about to die, but where’re his friennds? Why no body wanted to save him? Because they are all in the war.
War brought violence and took away humanity from people. War taught us to hate and prevent us to love. It made every soldier’s death like an every day issue. Emotionless seems to be appropriate.
Although both of the poems were talking about a similar idea, the Gunner’s already dead inrespect to the fact the the Airman had not died. The Gunner from Jarrell’s poem wanted to come to the earth. He was reluctant to leave. Jarrell said, “From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State.” He missed his mom and he wanted his life back. When he saw he was washed off, he actually got angry. He knew that he should not be treated like this. He had the desire to fight this. However, the Airman from Yeats’s poem was dying, meaning he’s not dead yet. Unlike the Gunner, he did not want his life back. On the contrary, he wanted to terminate his life. He balanced all. He accepted his death. Yeats said, “I balanced all, brought all to mind,” He accepted the fact he’s going to die and he understood it. He did not even feel bad about his own death.
I feel like Gunner could miss his mother, and that’s why he returned to earth from his mother’s dream. He had someone to remember and possible to love. But, the Irish airman had nothing left. Yeats said, “Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;” this Irish soldier was fighting for nothing. He scarified himself for nothing.
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