Thursday, September 7th, 2017...9:00 pmhange

10 Things about “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”

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  1. Innisfree is a small uninhabited island in Lough Gill, Ireland. (I forgot that it was possible for an island nation to have lakes and islands as part of their geography.)
  2. It’s a lyric poem with an alternate rhyme scheme: ABAB CDCD EFEF.
  3. It has 3 quatrains, which reminds me of a Shakespearean sonnet without a couplet at the end. Since Shakespearean verse is idolized, Yeats’s alterations of this form can be seen as an act of resistance of English cultural domination in Ireland.
  4. The themes are nostalgia and escapism. The speaker engages in escapism by seeking solitude in a cabin on Innisfree (line 2) and evoking emotional associations with the isle (line 5, 12).
  5. The elements of magic and twilight that we have emphasized in class appear in this poem.
  6. The passage of time is heavily mentioned in the poem. In the first line, the speaker “arises” and travels to the isle. In lines 6-8, the speaker mentions the passing times of days by illustrating what the sky and setting would look like.
  7. The description of the setting focuses on nature, including earthy materials, insects, and water elements.
  8. Even the artificial elements of Innisfree are describe in with earthy colors so that they blend in with the isle’s natural elements.
  9. The opening phrase “I will arise and go now” is repeated in the last stanza.
  10. The rhyme scheme of the last stanza included harsher long vowel sounds that stand out against the softer melody of the second stanza. I found the last stanza to be the most powerful because of the melodic contrast.


  • Referring to your last point, I also found that last stanza to be most powerful. For some reason, while reading this poem, I didn’t hear the rhyme scheme until the last stanza. Although it looks similar to the first stanza, I thought the last stanza provided the most symmetry. I think in the first stanza, listing the materials and characteristics of the small cabin breaks the “smoothness” and rhythm of the line. To me, reading that last stanza feels more natural than the remaining poem. In class, we also talked about how the second to last line of the poem may be the break (I think it’s definitely the break) as well as the mentioning of the human aspect of the poem that ends it- that also adds to the power of the ending stanza.

  • My favorite point is probably number five here. I especially agree that the elements of twilight and magic are especially important in Yeat’s work, since storytellers and poets are not “light time people”. Number eight was a close second choice for me, which I find important in a poem with nostalgia about a place.

  • Overall, great observations! I love how you noticed different aspects of the rhyme scheme in this poem. I really liked your third observation. I think the connection that you made between how Shakespearean verse is idolized speaks to a broader idea of how the English saw their culture as superior while they oppressed and destroyed the Irish culture.

  •   Leah Struzenski
    September 10th, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    I agree with your tenth observation. I think the use of the varying vowel sounds between the first and second stanzas evoke a dreamy feeling and a sense of longing to be able to be at Innisfree. The more dramatic, harsher sounds may be trying to create the feeling of a stronger need to be there as opposed to just a fantasy of longing.

  • I agree with your third observation, that Yeat’s variation of the shakespearean sonnet could be an act of rebellion. This was an intuitive element to catch and I think the idea of rebelling against British rule is a major theme in this poem. The fact that he is emphasizing an island that is untouched by humans and exists in this aura of fantasy could maybe represent Yeat’s longing for a place that is untouched by British rule that he can make his own?

  •   Professor Seiler
    September 12th, 2017 at 1:09 am

    Great start to the blog, Elaine. Hmm… we talked a little bit about ballad (as distinct from but in keeping with your point about near-English-sonnet form here). So let me add to this cluster of comments that I think there might be an essay in your emerging thinking about nostalgia in relation to escapism. Also: what are the “artificial elements” of Innisfree?

  • I think that your observation that the opening phrase “I will arise and go now” is repeated within the poem is definitely one of value. I would work to expand this even further by commenting on the way in which the first use of this phrase has the word “WILL” capitalized, while the second use of this phrase utilizes a lowercase “will.” Do you think that this illuminates any deeper meanings about the use of the phrase? Overall, great observations! 🙂

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