“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” expresses a set of desires familiar in the modern world: to escape, to achieve peace and solitude, to be at one with nature. Yeats says almost nothing in the poem about what he would like to escape from, but his reader can easily imagine the stressful conditions of modern, especially urban, life. Such desires have been common themes in Romantic literature since the beginning of the nineteenth century, and “Innisfree” is a good example of late nineteenth century Romanticism.
Many of Yeats’s early (pre-1900) poems express the feeling that, in William Wordsworth’s phrase, “the world is too much with us.” Poem after early poem articulates a longing for peace, for escape. The refrain in “The Stolen Child” (1886) is a seductive call to “Come away” from the world (seen as “full of weeping”) “To the waters and the wild.” “To an Isle in the Water” (1889) differs from “Innisfree” by expressing a wish to go away not alone but accompanied by the “Shy one of my heart.” Otherwise, the poem seems to be a study, a preliminary sketch for “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.”
While “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” is an early poem, it is in some respects transitional, pointing toward Yeats’s mature work. As its loosened rhythms contain something of his “own music,” so its images and vocabulary reveal something of his own emerging language. Again, a contrast may be drawn between the...
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Show MoreWilliam Butler Yeats
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” is a modernist poem published in Yeats’s second volume of poetry, entitled “The Rose” (1893) and, although simple in form and imagery, it has managed to earn its place as one of his great literary achievements and one of his most enduring. The poem represents a nostalgic description of a concrete, geographical place, the lake isle of Innisfree, which the poet manages to transform into a magical landscape, full of symbols and beautiful elements of nature.
The imagery of the poem creates an atmosphere of melancholy, due to the many references to a faraway, idyllic place, but also a feeling of hope and…show more content…
The speaker’s physical separation from Innisfree, even when describing its most intimate details, allows the reader an important degree of accessibility to the isle and, subsequently, to the memory of the speaker. It is this new perspective created by the fusion of the speaker’s memory and the reader’s imagination that eventually allows Yeats to take us from the mundane reality of London’s “pavements grey” to the collective remembering of Innisfree’s “deep heart’s core” and back again in only twelve lines.”(Peter J. Capuano, 146)
In the first line the poet expresses his determination to arise and go to Innisfree, where he will build a “small cabin” of “clay and wattles made”. There, he will have nine bean-rows and a bee-hive, and live alone in the glade, loud with the sound of bees. In this stanza we can easily observe the speaker’s longing for a simple life in the middle of nature. The cabin that he wants to live in is small, made only of clay and wattles, which underlines his yearning to live as the primitive people, as close to nature and the surroundings as possible. He wants to feed only on what nature provides, like beans, honey, and listen to the murmur of natural life in the background. Thus, the quiet, calm atmosphere in the beginning of the poem is disturbed only by the presence of the “bee-loud glade”, an extraordinary poetic image, due to this combination of auditive and