This Week’s Poem: The Lake At Innisfree – Dreamlike And Calming

This week’s poem by W B Yeats is one many of you will remember, says Gill Ward.

So here you are – an old friend revisiting. Recently a poetry lover read this poem at a gathering. She said she found it a calming poem and so it is. 

Yeats would have been delighted to hear this. Innisfree is real place in Ireland, and in the dream-like quality of this poem we are taken there. Of course, this is a lake and not the sea but water can relax you and although the sea around this area can be fierce

it can also soothe you (especially if you go into it). So now with all the chaos, sadness and confusion in the world reading the right poem is a useful activity.

Yeats is considered one of the key twentieth-century English-language poets. He was a Symbolist poet, using allusive imagery and symbolic structures throughout his career.

He chose words and assembled them so that, in addition to a particular meaning, they suggest abstract thoughts that may seem more significant and resonant.

Symbols – and traditional forms

His use of symbols is usually something physical that is both itself and a suggestion of other, perhaps immaterial, timeless qualities. Unlike the modernists who experimented with free verse, Yeats was a master of the traditional forms.

The last two lines of this poem say so much. Sometimes few words are able to say more than a pageful. I’m sure you agree.

Good reading and thinking in these often bewildering times.

The Lake at Innisfree

William Butler Yeats

‘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.’

William Butler Yeats - Nobel Prize in Literature 1923
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