The Lake Isle of Innisfree Analysis W B Yeats

 

About W B Yeats: William Butler Yeats (W B Yeats) was born in the year 1865 at Sandymount in County Dublin, Ireland. His interest in poetry came on at an early age due to his fascination in the Irish legends and occults. His earliest publishing of verse was in the year 1889, though he wrote poetry long before that. He is considered one of the most important figures of the 20th century. He is responsible for the revival of Irish literature alongside many others. His most notable works include ‘When You are Old’, ‘Her Anxiety’ and ‘A Dialogue of Self and Soul’. He was a versatile writer and wrote his poetry in many forms. He received the Noble Prize in Literature in the year 1923. He died in 1939 at the age of 73.

About ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’: This poem was written in the year 1893. Innisfree is a small island on the lake Lough Gill, in County Sligo. It is a place near the coast of Ireland. W B Yeats spent his childhood holidays in the County Silgo and came to love the place dearly. The poem can be said to be the adult Yeat’s longing for his return to the quiet place of his childhood.

Setting of the poem: The setting of the poem is on the shores of the lake isle of Innisfree. It is a small island in Ireland. The first two stanzas continue on with this setting but in the third stanza, the setting changes to that in a city with roadways and pavements.


Poetic Devices in The Lake Isle of Innisfree

Imagery: There is a fair amount of imagery in this poem. We can behold that small cabin, those nine rows of bens, that buzzing hive of bees, the slowly dawning sky, the peaceful crickets’ song, the shimmery glimmer midnight, the purple sky in the noon and finally the beating of the small linnet birds’ wings.

Stanza: The poem is written in three stanzas of four lines each.

Rhyme and Rhythm: Every couple alternate lines have their last words rhyming with each other. This is observed in all three stanzas. The rhyme scheme is ABAB. There is also an internal rhyme in the third line of the third stanza. ‘Roadway’ and ‘grey’; both rhyme with each other.

Repetition: There is slight repetition in the poem. The first line of first stanza and the first line of third stanza start the same way with the sentence, “I will arise and go now”.

Alliteration: There is alliteration, repeating of the same consonant sounds, in line 2 of stanza 3: lake water lapping with low sounds…

Metaphor: There are a couple of metaphors in this poem. The first one occurs in line 2 of stanza 2. ‘Veils of morning’ might refer to the fog or dew one often experiences in ‘green’ places. And the last line of the poem is a metaphor too. It means to say that the speaker of the poem deeply desires it.        

Summary of The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W B Yeats 

The speaker of the poem says that he would arise and go to Innisfree, a small island in Ireland. He would go there and build a cabin for himself, made of clay and wattles, a material used in making walls. He will plant some beans in nine rows. He would tend to a honey bee hive. And he would live alone in that place, with the buzzing of the bees all around him.

He shall have peace there, peace which comes slowly in the morning and continues into the noon and till midnight. The speaker repeats again that he will arise and go to the place of his longing, for he always hears the lake water lapping. But he hears this from where he was, which was on a pavement in the city. And yet, he hears this all in his heart.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree Analysis W B Yeats     

The speaker says that he will arise and go now to Innisfree. It means that the speaker already had plans to go to Innisfree and he will now finally execute them. This also implies that he isn’t currently there in Innisfree but he does not specifically tell where he is yet. He says he will build a small cabin indicating that he wasn’t going to that place on a lavish vacation but on a humble retreat. The bean rows and bee hives confirm this idea. He says he would live alone in the bee filled glade, an open space in a forest.

From line 1 of the second stanza, we see that the reason for this retreat of the speaker is his want of peace. That is the reason he wants to live alone so that no one can disturb him. He then goes on to describe the way peace descends on him, ‘dropping slow’. He means to say that peace had a way of embracing him. And from here on there is a bit of metaphor and imagery. Peace starts in the morning, dropping from the fog. Peace is in hearing the crickets’ song. The midnight sky of Innisfree is glimmering with stars. The moon is purple in color. And the evening is filled with linnet’s (which is a small bird) wings. This all kind of lends an unreal quality to the place. But at the same time, it also goes to show how the speaker of the poem imagines the place to be; beautifully peaceful without a doubt.

The speaker repeats that he will go now, emphasizing again his resolution to go. He says it’s because he hears the sound of water hitting against the shore even when he was on the roadway or pavement. We now realize that the speaker is really in a city. He is in a city and he longs for Innisfree. ‘I hear it in the deep heart’s core’; the speaker means to say that going to Innisfree is his greatest desire, deeply embedded in his heart. There is again a bit of metaphor used here.  The speaker’s desire to go free into the lonely isle is so great that he could hear the water splashing while standing the city.

Central Idea of the poem: The poem is a longing for peace and greenery and all that is natural. The central idea of the poem is to showcase the longing one feels for some quiet and alone time after living in a crowded, congested place like a city.

Tone of the poem: The tone of the poem is peaceful in the first 2 stanzas. It turns slightly passionate towards the end of the third stanza. Otherwise, it is mostly thoughtful, dreamy and full of longing.


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Conclusion: W B Yeats captures the longing for home and peace in this poem quite beautifully. Home, because Yeats spent his childhood there in the County Sligo, to which Innisfree belongs to. In fact, one can say this poem is a reflection of Keat’s desire itself. At the time of its creation, Keat was in a city, a bustling, crowded city and his innermost desire to go to his home and to peace came out bursting in the form of this poem.

Abhishek is a marketing research and social media consultant who developed a keen interest in blogging. He can be contacted at dey.abhishek99@gmail.com

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