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The Lake Isle of Innisfree Summary in English by William Butler Yeats
The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats About the Poet
Noted poet and playwright William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. Yeats was bom in Dublin, Ireland and received an education in both Dublin and London. Throughout his career, he was deeply invested in helping Ireland reclaim a literary culture of its own, free from English influence. When Yeats wrote ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ in 1888, his journey into poetry had just begun. Yeats writes about the natural beauty of Ireland. In December 1923, Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, for his always inspiring poetry, which is a highly artistic and gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.
Yeats is generally considered as one of the twentieth century’s key English poets. He was a symbolic poet because he used allusive imagery and symbolic structures throughout his career. Yeats chose words carefully and assembled them brilliantly in his poetry. In addition to a particular meaning, they suggest other abstract thoughts that seem more significant.
|Poet Name||William Butler Yeats|
|Born||13 June 1865, Sandymount, Ireland|
|Died||28 January 1939, Hôtel 3 étoiles Idéal Séjour Cannes- 16 chambres atypiques – un Jardin confidentiel, Cannes, France|
|Poems||The Second Coming, Lake Isle of Innisfree|
|Education||National College of Art and Design (1884–1886), Godolphin and Latymer School, The High School|
The Lake Isle of Innisfree Introduction to the Chapter
The Isle of Innisfree is an uninhabited island within Lough Gill, in County Sligo, Ireland, where Yeats spent his summers as a child. Yeats describes the inspiration for the poem coming from a “sudden” memory of his childhood while walking down Fleet Street in London in 1888. He writes, “I had still the ambition, formed in Sligo in my teens, of living in imitation of Thoreau on Innisfree, a little island in Lough Gill, and when walking through Fleet Street very homesick I heard a little tinkle of water and saw a fountain in a shop-window which balanced a little ball upon its jet, and began to remember lake water. From the sudden remembrance came my poem “Innisfree,” my first lyric with anything in its rhythm of my own music.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree Summary in English
The Lake Isle of Innisfree expresses the idea that nature is essentially restorative, a place to which human beings can go to escape the chaos and corrupting influences of civilization. The poet dreams of escaping from the busy streets of London. He remembers Innisfree, as a perfect little island that fulfilled all his needs.
The poem opens very formally with the words ‘T will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree.” It has been pointed out that these words echo those of the prodigal son in the Bible when he says, ‘T will arise and go to my father.” These Biblical overtones reinforce the idea of Innisfree being an almost holy place and bring to mind the prodigal son’s sense of relief when he resolved to leave his chaotic, unhappy life and return to his childhood home—a place of serenity and simplicity. The poet goes on to describe the life he will lead on the island. At Innisfree he will build a small cabin “of clay and wattles made”.
There, he will be completely self-sufficient as he will plant nine bean-rows and build a beehive and live alone in the glade loud with the sound of bees. The poet’s vision is of a romantic, idyllic, timeless way of life. Yeats imagines living in peace and solitude; where the only sounds will be those of nature.
Yeats becomes so involved with the idea of this peaceful paradise that the future tense is abandoned and he uses the present tense instead. It is almost as if, by thinking and writing about Innisfree, he imagines himself there at that moment. He tells us that he will have peace there. In the morning, the mist is like veils thrown over the lake; at noon, the purple heather blazes under the sun; the evening is full of the whirr of the linnet’s wings and at night, the stars fill the sky.
The vision of the peaceful place is so powerful that Yeats once again asserts, ‘T will arise and go”. The solemnity is reinforced and emphasised by this repetition, as is the strength of his longing. He declares again that he will arise and go to Innisfree, for always, night and day, he hears the lake water lapping “with low sounds by the shore”, While he stands in the city, “on the roadway, or on the pavements grey”, he hears the sound within himself. The colourless grey of the pavements seems dreary and depressing and we can empathise with Yeats’ yearning for the Lake Isle of Innisfree, a yearning he feels in ‘’the deep heart’s core.”
The Lake Isle of Innisfree Message
The Lake Isle of Innisfree expresses a familiar desire in the modem world: to escape, to achieve peace and solitude, to be at one with nature. Although 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 modem, especially urban, life in a hectic city. It also expresses the idea that nature provides an inherently restorative place to which human beings can go for succour. The speaker feels as if that is where he/she belongs and that is where he/she can find his/her hue self, since the speaker states, “I hear it in the deep heart’s core”, showing how the speaker feels a deep connection with the island of Innisfree and its nature.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree Title
The poem has an apt title. The Lake Isle of Innisfree is an actual place, an island in Lough Gill off the coast of Ireland in County Sligo. To the poet, living as he is in London, the title gives us a hint of what’s to come. It prepares us for the dreamy, picturesque place that the speaker describes away from the hubbub and the “grey” concrete of the city. It brings up an image of pastoral beauty which stands in direct contrast to “the roadway” and “the pavements grey” referred to in the last stanza.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree Setting
Though the poet is in London on a grey street, “ While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey” we spend most of the poem dreaming about the ideal country setting, Innisfree. The Lake Isle of Innisfree is a perfect little island that would supply all the poet’s needs. This poem explores his longing for the peace and tranquillity of Innisfree where he spent a lot of time as a boy.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree Theme
The main theme of The Lake Isle of Innisfree is the harmony between man and nature. Though the speaker lives in the city, he/she longs for a simpler life in Innisfree where he/she can engage with nature and its beauty. Yeats wishes to leave the hectic city life of London and escape to Innisfree, a perfect little island off the coast of Ireland. He longs for the peace and tranquility of the place where he spent a lot of time as a boy. Here, the poet implies that there is no peace in London.
The poet describes Innisfree as a simple, natural environment where he will build a cabin and live alone on beans and honey which he will cultivate himself. He imagines finding harmony on the island. He dreams of living in a delightful climate there and listening to the songbirds at dusk. As a child Yeats spent his holidays in the County Sligo, where Innisfree is located. So, in a way, the poet is also wishing to return to the carefree days of his childhood.
The speaker, who lives in London, is fed up of the hubbub of the congested city. He longs for the solitude of an isolated island where the only company he desires is that of the bees and the birds.
The poem also expresses the poet’s longing to go back to nature and live a self-sufficient life. The poet thinks he can get closer to his roots, or his true self, by abandoning the chaotic, hectic life of the city and embracing a life in the lap of nature. Peace is a natural outcome of living in harmony with nature.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree Tone
The poet’s tone is yearning, as he longs for the serene beauty of Sligo amidst the chaos and traffic of London. As he imagines the life he will lead at Innisfree, his longing for the life increases. Despite his longing to escape to the lap of nature, the tone poet’s is peaceful, thoughtful, expectant and harmonious in keeping with the poem’s theme. The poem ends on a note of determination as he decides to leave London and go to Innisfree.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree Literary Devices
Alliteration is the repetition of the initial letter (generally a consonant) or first sound of several words, marking the stressed syllables in a line of poetry.
Example: A hive for the honey-bee
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds
An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, or representation of, a place, event, literary work, myth, or work of art, either directly or by implication.
Example: The poem opens very formally with the words ‘’I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree.” It has been pointed out that these words echo those of the prodigal son in the Bible when he says, ‘’I will arise and go to my father.”
Imagery is a poetic device wherein the author uses words or phrases that appeal to any of the senses or any combination of senses to create “mental images” for the reader. Imagery helps the reader to visualize more realistically the author’s writings. Imagery is not limited to only visual sensations, but also refers to igniting kinesthetic, olfactory, tactile, gustatory, thermal and auditory sensations as well.
Examples: And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee, (visual imagery)
And live alone in the bee-loud glade, (sound imagery)
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; (sound imagery)
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, (visual imagery)
And evenings full of the linnet’s wings, (sound imagery)
I hear the lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; (sound imagery)
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, (visual imagery)
I hear it in the deep heart’s core, (sound imagery)
A metaphor is a comparison between two concepts, tightened by the omission of any adjoining words.
Example: “Peace comes dropping slow / Dropping from the veils of the morning” (lines 5-6) in which the dropping of the mist in the sky is compared to the peace that overcomes the island.
The entire poem is an extended metaphor in which Innisfree represents an escape from reality.
Poets often repeat words, phrases, lines, or stanzas to create a musical effect, to emphasize a point, to draw attention to a point, or to lend unity to a piece.
In The Lake Isle of Innisfree certain words, sounds and even stanzas are repeated in a poem which serve to stress certain ideas, pictures / images, sounds or moods,
Example: I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, (Line 1)
I will arise and go now, for always night and day (Line 9)
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings
A symbol is literary device that contains several layers of meaning, often concealed at first sight, and is representative of several other aspects, concepts or traits than those that are visible in the literal translation alone. Symbol is using an object or action that means something more than its literal meaning.
Example: The poet uses Innisfree as a symbol. The Lake Isle of Innisfree is used to show that there is a place for everyone to find peace and quiet. It allows people to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. It also allows one to be stress-free and take time to appreciate nature. Innisfree is the symbol of inner peace and freedom.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree Summary Questions and Answers
Describe the Lake Isle of Innisfree as seen through the eyes of the poet.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree is an island that is incredibly peaceful. The island is also a place of great natural beauty. Yeats describes many different aspects of its appeal, from the various birds and insects to the striking light at different times of day. This is a landscape that has not been damaged or diminished by human interference.
Why does the poet want to go to Innisfree?
The poet wants to go Innisfree in search of peace. He does not like London with its noise and grey pavements. He wants to live in a place which is the opposite of London; he craves for some peace and hence he wants to go to Innisfree where he will be self-sufficient. He will build a small cabin and grow beans and make his own honey by keeping honeybees. Instead of city noise, he will hear the buzzing of the bees and the sound of lake water lapping against the shore.
How is the city life different from the life at the Lake of Innisfree?
City life according to the poet is routine and wearisome. The city is noisy, the pavements are dull and grey; there is chaos all around. But at Innisfree, he can escape the noise of the city and be lulled by the “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore.” On this small island, he can return to nature by growing beans and having bee hives, by enjoying the “purple glow” of noon, the sounds of birds’ wings, and, of course, the bees. He can even build a cabin and stay on the island.
What kind of life does the poet William Butler Yeats imagine in his poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”?
Yeats imagines Innisfree as an idyllic place of peace and solitude. He imagines living in a “small cabin” of “clay and wattles” where he will support himself on beans he plants and honey from his bee hive, and he will “live alone in the bee-loud glade.” There is also a sense that the “peace” he will find there is connected to its natural beauty.
Write three things that the poet would like to do when he goes back to Innisfree.
Innisfree is a perfect island that provides everything desired by the poet. The poet will build a small cabin of clay and fence. He will have nine rows of beans. He will also have a hive for the honeybees.
How will the poet live on the island of Innisfree ?
The poet will go to Innisfree and live in the lap of nature in quiet solitude. He will build a small cabin there. He shall have nine rows of beans and a hive of bees. He will survive on the beans and the honey cultivated by himself.
Why does the speaker in the poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” desire to spend his time alone in his cabin?
The speaker longs for a quiet place where he can live in peace and in harmony with nature. He envisions a simple life in a cottage surrounded by a garden instead of the dull “pavement” of the city. In his mind, he hears the gentle “lapping” of the water against its shore, the bee loud glade instead of the noise of city traffic. And he will be self-sufficient, growing his own food.
‘And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.” Where will the poet have some peace ? How?
The poet indicates that peace of mind can be slowly acquired in the lap of Nature. From the morning, when the mist is like a veil thrown over the lake, to the noon when the purple heather blazes finder the sun and the evening is Ml of the sound of the linnet’s wings and finally, at night, the glow of stars lighting up the sky, the poet will have peace.
How does the poet describe the lake’s waves?
The poet says that the lake’s waves hit its shore and create a low sound. The sound, different from the sounds of the city, gives him great pleasure. He hears it in his heart and enjoys it. It also gives him solace and comfort as he realises he can visualise the island in his heart in the city.
How is the ‘roadway in London’ different from the Lake Isle of Innisfree?
The roadway in London is dull and grey. But there is nature’s beauty all round in the isle of Innisfree. The poet finds himself surrounded by the beauty of nature and its sounds. He hears the sweet sound of the lake water lapping against the shore.