Monday, September 11th, 2017...8:58 pmMegan

10 Things That I Noticed About Yeats’ “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”

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  1. First person speaker. The poem is evidently written in the first-person, with the speaker referring to his/her/its own fierce desire to go to Innisfree.
  2. A major theme of the poem appears to be the concept of isolation or the way in which the speaker feels that he/she/it will only be able to achieve peace by “liv(ing)” alone in the bee-loud glade” (line 4). This seems to suggest that it is not only an existence in the natural world that will bring the speaker peace, but the ability to escape humanity.
  3. The repetition of the line “I WILL arise and go now” at the beginning and end of the poem (lines 1 & 9). This seems to signify the speaker’s determination and desperate yearning to achieve the action of travelling to the Lake Isle of Innisfree. It is also interesting to note that the first line of the poem capitalizes the word “WILL” will the second time this line is repeated, the word “will” is lowercase. This change might suggest that the author’s determination is at its peak at the start of the poem, but is reduced towards the end of the poem, perhaps to fit with the dreamlike imagery or to emphasize the fact that the speaker still exists in a civilization, standing “on the roadway” (line 11).
  4. Emphasis on nature and the natural world in relation to peacefulness. Throughout the poem, the speaker places an emphasis on the connection to peace and the natural world. The speaker does not envision living in a luxurious home or possessing things of monetary value, but instead, plans to build a small cabin from “clay and wattles” from the earth and views peace as “dropping from the veils of morning” and extending to “where the cricket sings” (lines 5-6).
  5. Dreamlike imagery, particularly in relation to nature and speaker’s plans to inhabit Innisfree. When describing Innisfree and the natural world at certain times of day, the speaker uses words such as “glimmer” (line 7), “glow” (line 7) and “full of the linnet’s wings” (line 8), which gives us the powerful auditory image of a mystical, dreamlike setting in the forest. In this way, the speaker seems to suggest that Innisfree is a place of magic and enchantment.
  6. Rhymed quatrains with a consistent rhyme scheme of ABAB, CDCD, EFEF. The structure of the poem makes it sound like it could almost serve as a nursery rhyme or rhythmic song when spoken aloud. I believe that this has been done purposefully by Yeats in order to emphasize the enchanting quality of Innisfree, as well as to demonstrate the way in which the speaker’s thoughts and memories regarding Innisfree evoke sounds and images like a song.
  7. Internal rhyme on line 13 between “roadway” and “grey.” While the entire poem has a consistent rhyme scheme, this is the only internal rhyme within the poem. By rhyming these two words, the speaker seems to be connecting the concept of a grey, unhappy life with his current existence in a civilized location with roadways and pavements. This, coupled with the speaker’s connection between nature and peacefulness, suggests that the speaker is miserable and restless when he is not alone in the natural world of Innisfree.
  8. LOOSELY Iambic Pentameter. Similar to the effect of the structure of the poem, the tempo and stresses of the words give the poem a song-like rhythm that gives a dream-like quality to the quatrains.
  9. Inversion. In lines 2-4, the normal order of the words is reversed, placing emphasis on the parts of the natural world described in the lines, such as “clay”, “wattles,” and “bean-rows.” This inversion, or anastrophe, also helps to aid in keeping a song-like rhythm within the poem.
  10. “For always night and day” and “I heart in in the deep heart’s core.” The final quatrain of the poem is focused on the way in which the speaker is ALWAYS thinking and longing for Innisfree and constantly yearning to fulfill his dream of living in isolation on the island. The final line of the poem seems to be similar to the modern-day phrase that “home is where the heart is.” Although the speaker does not currently live in Innisfree, his heart and mind are fully committed to the lake isle.


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

    Megan–nice start to the blog. Even just what you have in bold font here would achieve the goal of this simple listing exercise, namely, to slow you down to observe before you launch in to (strong!) analysis. There’s a paper to be built out of your observations about the form (especially the sound patterning) and the dreaminess of this poem, for sure–if you like!

  •   Brian Nickless
    September 12th, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Very good analysis. I like how you spoke about the mechanics of the poem as much as the themes you picked up on. These mechanics were things I personally did not pick up on so it was very interesting to read your thoughts on the internal rhyming and the use of Iambic pentameter. Your third point also was very interesting and something I agree is a very important part of the poem.

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