Thursday, 21 November 2013


An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

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.

Nor 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.

                                    William Butler Yeats

 "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death" was first published in the second edition of The Wild Swans at Coole 1919, "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death" is one of four poems written about Major Robert Gregory, the only son of Lady Gregory by Irish poet, dramatist, and folklorist WB Yeats. The other three poems include "The Sad Shepherd" or "Shepherd and Goatherd", "In Memory of Major Robert Gregory," and "Reprisals," which were later published after Yeats's death. 

I remember on a cycling holiday, visiting that part of Europe where the First World war was concentrated and reading a brochure which stated, that every inch of that soil, was soaked in blood from incessant wars. When I saw a marker there for an unknown airman, who lost his life in the first World war, I thought of this poem and of Ireland and wept. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Britain's murderous army

Former British soldiers have admitted that they participated in a death squad which murdered unarmed civilians in Northern Ireland in the 1970's:
Soldiers from an undercover unit used by the British army in Northern Ireland killed unarmed civilians, former members have told BBC One's Panorama.

Speaking publicly for the first time, the ex-members of the Military Reaction Force (MRF), which was disbanded in 1973, said they had been tasked with "hunting down" IRA members in Belfast.

The former soldiers said they believed the unit had saved many lives.

The Ministry of Defence said it had referred the disclosures to police.

The BBC has identified ten murders that this death squad was responsible for, and there will likely be more. But after 40 years, the units records have all been destroyed, and it will be difficult to bring the murderers to justice. And Northern Ireland's Attorney-General doesn't exactly seem keen on doing his job.

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