Poetry

Jonathan, Yeats’ “Lake Isle of Innisfree”

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, and a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, and live alone in the bee-loud glade. And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, and evening full of the linnet’s wings. I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

The thing about a poem, especially a short poem like this, which you can very easily commit to memory, is that you don’t physically have to have it with you. It’s there in your imagination. And there’s a way in which you can substitute your own images, your own visual cues for Yeats’. 6078336You don’t have to know precisely what the real Lake Isle of Innisfree looks like. You don’t specifically have to know what a linnet (a bird he mentions in the poem) looks like. You can substitute your own bird. You can imagine your own beehives.

You can’t rush forward. But then also the imagery that he’s feeding you all these words associated with natural calm, with natural ease, words to do with quietness, to do with calm, and transporting you with him. It’s a particularly powerful poem I think in that regard.

 

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