Summary and Analysis of The Wild Swans at Coole by Yeats

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INTRODUCTION TO W.B. YEATS-

William Butler Yeats was born on 13 June, 1865 in Sandy-mount, Republic of Ireland and spent many years of his life in England.  Yeats is considered as one of the most important poets in the world of English and Irish literature. The major genres that his works revolve around are romance, Irish culture, folklore and mythology.

THE WILD SWANS AT COOLE-

“The Wild Swans at Coole” is a beautiful poem composed by W.B. Yeats. The poet, in this poem, wonders about time, mortality, the pleasures of company.

SETTING OF THE WILD SWANS AT COOLE-

The poem is set in ‘The Coole Park’ in Ireland, this park is a real geographical location and the poet employs the figure of speech called allusion by providing a direct reference of an existing location in his work. The setting of this park is also symbolic for Yeats used to spend a lot of time in the lap of the nature to escape the reality of life.

POETIC DEVICES IN THE WILD SWANS AT COOLE-

ALLITERATION-

“The bell-beat of their wings above my head,”

“Companionable streams or climb the air;”

“Passion or conquest, wander where they will,”

SYMBOLISM-

The poet uses Coole Park by providing a direct reference to an existing location in the Republic of Ireland. The park is symbolic representation of feeling of comfort and peace.

ALLUSION-

The poet provides a direct reference of “Coole Park”, located in Ireland.

REPETITION-

“Unwearied still, lover by lover”

RHYME SCHEME OF THE WILD SWANS AT COOLE-

Unwearied still, lover by lover,  (A)

They paddle in the cold  (B)

Companionable streams or climb the air;  (A)

Their hearts have not grown old;  (B)

Passion or conquest, wander where they will, (C)

Attend upon them still.  (C)

SUMMARY OF THE WILD SWANS AT COOLE-

The speaker of the poem starts by describing the place he is in, he tells the readers that the trees are in their autumn beauty and the woodland path is dry under the autumn air, it is the time of twilight. The lake at the park provides a clear reflection of the still sky and there are fifty nine swans in the lake. The speaker tells us that he has been watching the swans for nineteen years now, nineteen autumns have passed since he first counted the number of swans at the lake. The poet is  not satisfied yet of watching the  swans swim when suddenly, for the first time, the swans spread their wings, getting ready to take flight. The sight of the swans preparing to leave makes the speaker’s heart ache for it has been years since he has been watching them, time has flown by and he has developed a bond with the beautiful creatures. The speaker realises that with time, everything has changed. The swans take flight and the speaker can now hear the bell-beat of their flapping wings, treading lightly with the light breeze, above his head. The swans swim in the water and climb in the air, they are energetic creatures and the speaker is in awe of them. All the swans are with their companions, they are in pairs, the speaker observes. The speaker realises that the hearts of the swans have not grown old, whether being passionate or wanting to conquest, these creatures are wanderes at heart and they will wander to where ever they wish. Now, the swans drift in the still water in all their mystery and beauty. The speaker wonders where the swans will be next time he visits the park, will they be delighting other men’s eyes with their beauty in some other lake. He wonders, when he awakes would he find that the swans have flown away.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE WILD SWANS AT COOLE-

This beautiful composition by Yeats employs a very pleasant imagery of a park with a magnificent lake, the speaker sitting under the twilight sky. The poet here highlights the significance of time, the effects the passage of time has on living beings and that true passion can never be defeated, not even by time.

TONE OF THE WILD SWANS AT COOLE-

The tone of the poem is calm and quiet. For most part, the tone is pleasant, except for the third and fourth stanza where the speaker experiences the fear and ache by realising the possibility of him being seperated from the swans.

CONCLUSION-

This magnificent composition by Yeats is successful in reminding the readers that no matter what age, true passion is an emotion that can never be defeated, even not by time, the most powerful of all.

Contributor: Radhika Goel

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