Poems of W.B. Yeats: The Rose Summary and Analysis

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

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Summary

Yeats expresses his desire to build a small cabin at Innisfree, out of natural materials, and live alone.

He will find peace on the lake, where it drops from the morning, and the beautiful midnight.

He determines to leave immediately, because even when he stands in a road or on a city pavement, he hears the lapping of the lake waters in his heart.

Analysis

Yeats's profession of love for nature is one of his most famous and beautiful poems. It is unusual in this collection as it contains no references to the Irish nationalist movement, to Maude Gonne, or to ancient Irish mythology. Yeats first wrote the poem in London, in 1890, where he was feeling intensely homesick.

Innisfree, whose name means "heather island" in Gaelic, is an island off the coast of Ireland of intense natural beauty. It is located in County Sligo, which is where Yeats's mother's family came from, and which he identified as the part of Ireland and the world closest to his heart. In the idea of building a home there and living as a hermit, Yeats was influenced by American transcendentalists such as Thoreau. He wrote in a letter: "My father read to me some passage out of Walden, and I planned to live some day in a cottage on a little island called Innisfree."