Archive for the ‘Irish Airman’ Category

Poetic Metre

November 30, 2012 Leave a comment

A note on today’s lesson regarding the metre of the poem: (from

METRE: Metre is from the Greek word for measuring; at its most basic, metre is a system of describing what we can measure about the audible features of a poem. The systems that have been used in history to structure metres are: the number of syllables; the duration of syllables; the number of stressed syllables; and combinations of the above.

To describe the pattern, the stressed and unstressed syllables are gathered into groups known as feet, and the number of feet to a line gives a name thus:

1 foot: monometer
2 feet: dimeter
3 feet: trimeter
4 feet: tetrameter – This is what Irish Airman is written in
5 feet: pentameter
6 feet: hexameter
7 feet: heptameter
8 feet: octameter

Within the metre of verse, the syllables, stressed and unstressed, are measured in FEET.

FEET:  a unit of metre, consisting of a combination of stressed and unstressed syllables. If stressed syllables are marked “/” and unstressed “u”, the main types can be shown thus:

Iamb: [ u / ], such as “delight”. (The adjective is “iambic”.)
Trochee: [ / u ], such as “badger” (Trochaic)
Anapest, or anapaest: [ u u / ], such as “unaware” (Anapestic / anapaestic)
Dactyl: [ / u u ], such as “multiple” (Dactylic)

A fair bit of info here, but the explanation of ‘feet’ in terms of words which fall into the iamb/trochee etc category are very helpful.

If you use this info to mark the stressed and unstressed syllables in Irish Airman, it should look like this throughout:

U    /       U     /    U       /       U      / 

I know that I shall meet my fate

U             /         U     /    U       /        U      /

Somewhere among the clouds above;

Although the formatting makes the lines look different, you can see that the pattern is the same throughout – unstressed, followed by a stressed syllable, four times each line. This is what creates the iambic tetrameter.

The key thematic ideas of this are:

  • Constancy – the continual progression of life, regardless of occurrences
  • Regularity – this relates to the regimented idea fo the military

A fair bit of complicated terminology here, but these points are particularly relevant to the structure questions in the exam papers.

Any questions, post a message.

Categories: Irish Airman

Questions on the War Poems

November 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Some Textual Analysis questions to help further your understanding of the themes of the other poems looked at in class. These are pretty tricky. Make sure you have read up on the necessary terminology. Post any questions you have for some help.

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Owen’s poem condemns both the brutality of war and the propaganda peddled by speakers and politicians of the age.

1. Comment on the effectiveness of Owen’s use of imagery in the opening stanza of the poem to convey the brutal reality of war. (4)

2. Comment on how effective Owen’s use of structure is in the second stanza in conveying the pace at which events happen in the trenches. (4)

3. How effective do you find Owen’s concluding lines as a comment upon propaganda? (2)

The Soldier

Brooke’s poem was utilised by the British government to portray the role of the forces in a positive light.

1. Comment on the effectiveness on Brooke’s use of personification in the first stanza. (2)

2. Comment on the effectiveness of Brooke’s use of repetition throughout the poem. (2)

The Waste Land

The seminal work of the modernist era, Eliot’s poem compares modern society to a waste land; bleak and despairing.

1. Why does Eliot claim that ‘April is the cruelest month’? (2)

2. Identify the two techinques evident in the following lines:

‘Winter kept us warm, covering us in forgetful snow’ (2)

3. How effective do you find this image as a modernist comment on society? (2)

Questions on All Poems

1. Owen portrays war in a negative/realistic manner, whereas Brooke conveys it an a positive light. In what respect do you consider Yeats’ ‘Irish Airman’ to be a war poem? What comment does it make?  (2)

2. Eliot’s poetry focuses on the problem of modern society. What comment does Yeats make on society? Does his speaker feel connected to his country? (2)

3. One of the key themes of modernism is solitude and isolation from society. Comment on how Yeats’ presents these ideas through his ‘Irish Airman’. Refer specifically to Yeats’ use of imagery, contrast and structure in the presentation of this. (6)

Categories: Irish Airman

Links to Notes and Analysis

November 22, 2012 Leave a comment

A few heplful links to articles on the web which discuss the poem can be found here:

Some decent points. Translated from Russian, so there are a few anomalies, but the ideas are good. Careful with the ‘sic’! (this indicates an error)

Some well phrased answers to useful questions here.

A handy site with loads of information on a number of texts. Some good info on Yeats.

Categories: Irish Airman

Textual Analysis Questions

November 22, 2012 Leave a comment

The TA questions on the poem can be found here:

Irish Airman Questions


Categories: Irish Airman

Key Terms Explained

November 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Just a wee reminder of the some of the thematic terminology discussed in class:


The name given to the artistic movement at the beginning of the twentieth century. Much literature at this time focused on the theme of alienation within society, and critiqued modern life. Notable figures are; T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Virgina Woolf.


The belief that human effort and advancement will result in progress which will lead to an improvement in society’s quality of life. Modernist works can be seen to disagree with this.


A belief that life is essentially meaningless or without purpose.


A devotion to one’s country.


A form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument.

Categories: Irish Airman

The War Poems

November 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Attached below are the thematically linked poems/extracts we have discussed in class:

WW1 Poetry

The key themes/ideas we discussed were:

Irish Airman:  Rejection of Patriotism / National Identity / Anti-Meliorism

Dulce: The brutal reality of war

The Soldier: Propagandist celebration of war / Naïveté

The Waste Land: The failings of modern society/modern life

On Being Asked for a War Poem: The Impact of Poetry on Politics

Categories: Irish Airman