After Futurism: Reimaging Modernity in a Post-WWI World

Below is an excerpt from an essay I created for my Modern Poetry class. For the full essay and works cited page, visit the link.

“The ingredients are present for a futurist poem in W. B. Yeats’ “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death.” The post-WWI poem, actually written during the war’s final year before being published in 1919, showcases a man, nature’s masculine hero, and his warplane, a modern killing machine. Death and destruction would be expected to crackle through the poem’s succinct 16 lines, yet readers anticipating a work like that of F. T. Marinetti’s vein would leave disappointed; a futurist poem this is not. Through “Irish Airman,” Yeats sets up futurist conventions before straying away from Marinetti and futurists’ main tenets as laid out by “Manifesto of Futurism.” Yeats instead takes an intrinsic look into the airman, ignoring the machoism, technology, and war associated within the poem’s futurist context. In a sense, Yeats has taken what he still finds desirable from futurism and moved on from the genre’s rubble with a revamped modernist approach, one that, as replicated by later modernists, recognizes the past while still keeping its content in the present.”

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