William Butler Yeats’ “An Acre of Grass” was written when he was living in Riverdale, Dublin. The ‘acre of grass’ refers to the small area of a greenland adjacent to his dwelling.
The poem represents the agitation in the poet’s mind about losing his vigour and zest because of the onset of old age. The poet has become a dejected and forlorn man now. His collection of books and pictures are his only company during his solitude. He is now away from his active, busy life. To heighten the old man’s loneliness, the poet uses the imagery of a mouse that runs from one corner of the desolate house to another. The house as well as the poet has been engulfed by old age. However, the poet retorts that mental qualities have nothing to do with physical abilities. He wants to have passionate imagination. The poet’s mind is still capable of producing artistic works even though the attractiveness of his external features has decreased. In the third and fourth stanza, we can find the poet’s desperate goading for zest and passion. In this context, he uses characters like Timon and Lear who are full of zealous and outrageousness. He also refers to Blake and Michelangelo who search for truth through their artistic productions.
The poem consists of four stanzas each having six lines. The language of the poem remains relatively simple and common throughout. The tone of the poem changes in each stanza. It is assertive and gentle in the first, confessional in the second, desirous and angry in the third and calm in the fourth.
The flow of words and the lucidity have marked the style of the poem. ‘Green grass’, ‘life..lose’, ‘mill…mind’ are examples of alliteration in the poem, “An Acre of Grass.” There is a hint of solitude and sadness in the first stanza but soon is replaced by optimism of the mind. With the absolute magic of words, Yeats had undoubtedly created one of his finest poems.