The Lake Isle of Innisfree: by W. B. Yeats - Summary & Analysis

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Stanza I

      I will get up at once and go to Innisfree. There I shall build a small hut of clay and rods and sow a small bean-field of my own. I shall also have a hive for bees to produce honey; their humming shall be the only sound that will fill the quiet valley. There I shall live all alone.

Stanza II

      In that island I shall enjoy perfect peace. Peace comes there pouring down slowly in the huts of peasants (full of the cricket’s shrill note) through the mists of the morning. Even at midnight there is the faint light of stars shining brilliantly and at noon there is a soft and subdued light (purple glow) of the sun. In the evenings, the linnets fly about in the air filling it with sweet songs.

Stanza III

      I have such a deep longing that I shall arise and go at once to Innisfree. All the twenty-four hours, I fancy, I hear the soft music of the lake-water beating against the shore of this island. In the city, when I am standing on the road or on the footpath, this same music rings in the innermost recess of my heart.

Critical Explanation

Stanza I

      Arise and go now—the words indicate the impatience of the poet: he is fed up with the life that he has been living in London. Innisfree—it is a little island on the lake Lough Gill near the poet’s home in Sligo. The sound of the name is also poetic. Cabin—hut or a cottage. Of clay and wattle—in contrast with magnificent and palatial buildings of London. The hut would be of clay and interlaced twigs or wicker hurdles. Nine—is a mystic number and is here meant for suggesting something mysterious. Bean—a variety of vegetables with seed in pods. The poet desires to have his own small vegetable garden. Hive for the honey bee—artificial wooden framework for bee-keeping and gathering honey. Live alone fed up by the crowded life of London the poet desires to live in solitude. Bee-loud glade—open space in forest buzzing with bee.

Stanza II

      I shall have some peace there—and that is what he misses in London. For peace conies dropping slow—the poet imagines peace to come down upon earth like dew or mist from the sky. We cannot imagine peace to come in an excited or hurried maimer. From the veils of the morning—as if peace rains down upon earth gently with the mist of the morning. Cricket—a winged insect. Midnight is all a glimmer—faint lights of stars shines at night. A purple glow—at noon also the light of the sun is subdued and soft, being of purple color. Full of linnet’s wings—the flying linnets make music when returning to their nests in the evening.

Stanza III

      I will arise and go now—the repetition shows the impatience of the poet. For always night and day—without any break; at all times. I hear the lake water....the shore—this line is much appreciated for its music and its sound effects produced by the use of I’s and r’s. I hear—he cannot, of course, actually hear; the sound only rings in his ears. Lapping—washing. It should be noticed that only soft sounds are mentioned here so that they may be in harmony with the peaceful atmosphere of the place. Low sounds—soft and gentle sound is produced as the waves do not strike the shore with force. While standing on the roadway—it is a fact that this poem suggested itself to Yeats when he was actually waiting for a conveyance in a London street where he found the bustle and noise uncomfortable. Pavements gray—pathways on the sides of streets for pedestrians. These pathways are usually of stone. Contrast the scene in a London street full of traffic with the quiet and. peaceful atmosphere of the lake Isle as painted by the poet. I hear it in the deep heart’s core—the sound of the waves softly washing the shore of the island in distant Ireland cannot, of course, be heard with ears by one in London. But the poet, hears it in the depth of his heart, and finds it very attractive.

Explanation L. 1-4

      I will arise and go now bee-loud glades: The poet impatiently desires to go away from London at once and settle down in the small island of Innisfree. There he will build for himself a small hut of clay and twigs. He will have his small vegetable garden and he will keep bees for honey. He will be happy in his loneliness where the glades will be resounding with the buzzing of the bees. He longs for a quiet life in beautiful natural surroundings where his modest wants would be easily satisfied.

Explanation L. 4-8

      And I shall have some peace there  the linnet’s wings: The poet hopes to get some peace in that island and so he yearns to go there. Peace drops there gently with the mist in the morning:on the grassy fields where cricket sings. The different hours of day and night show soft lights conducive to peace. At midnight the light shows fitful gleams, and at noon there is purple soft light. In the evening one can hear the fluttering sound of linnets as they return to their nests.

Explanation L. 8-12

      I will arise go now the deep heart’s core: Sick of the hurry and bustle of London life and its noisy traffic, the poet impatiently desires to return at once to the lake Isle in his own country, where he knows that he can enjoy a peaceful life. In his yeanling for the Isle, even in the noisy street of London he hears in the depth of his heart the alluring and soft sound of the waves gently-washing the shore. His ears catch the din and noise of traffic, but his heart the sound of the washing waves in Ireland. He can no more resist the temptation of going there at once.

Critical Analysis


      The lyric The Lake Isle of Innisfree by Yeats is one almost a perfect expression of the feeling of home-sickness or nostalgia. We often feel weary of the din and bustle of life in a modem town, and long for the peace and quietude of a beautiful natural spot. This poem gives expression to that feeling of weariness and longing for an ideally simple but beautiful place. It is the yearning of the home-sick heart of man translated into the music of his dreams. For those who feel themselves strangers and sojourners in an alien and unintelligible world, the Lake Isle of Innisfree is the symbol of the place where they would be, and where the soul at last shall possess itself peace. The sad and moving lines create a wonderful feeling in the reader’s mind because of their vague pictures and quaint ideas. The vague atmosphere intensifies the mystic feeling, and the reader finds himself transported by the enchantment of music into a world where the actors are spirits.

Development of Thought

      The poet has become weary of city life and so yearns to go to the lonely isle of Innisfree where he would find peace and solitude in place of the din and noise of the world. There he would grow his own food and keep a bee-hive. And a small cottage made of clay and wattles would be his modest dwelling in the natural and peaceful surroundings. His heart is in that island and even now he seems to hear the sound of the lapping water of the lake. And this lures him to that peaceful place, from the din and noise of London.

      The poet paints here the ideal land of romance with its exquisite natural beauty with its peaceful sounds and scenes. Things calm and quiet would be in perfect harmony with his own soul.

A Poem of Escape

      The poem records the poet’s mood of escapism. Yeats is the last great poet in the English romantic tradition. All romantic poets, particularly Shelley and Keats, were escapists. They yearned for the ideal and the beautiful world. Yeats in this poem expresses a desire to escape from the roar and din in the busy London life to the beautiful and quiet island of Innisfree. It is the lonely island of peace, bright rivers and lovely sights and sounds. He is determined to arise and go to the magical island, because he hears its calls ‘in the deep heart’s core.’ The call cannot be denied. He will now respond to it.

Immediate Source of Inspiration of the Poem

      The sight of a tinkling fountain in a London shop served as the immediate-source of inspiration for the poem. The sight of the fountain reminded the poet of the enchanted island. The beautiful sights of his beloved island suddenly flashed across his mind’s eye. He felt that he was hearing the soul of the water of rivers of the island. These rivers seemed to call him. He longed for the peace and loneliness of the island.

As a Lyric

      The poem because of its dreaminess and the note of escapism-puts the poet in the direct line of the romantics with Shelley and Keats. The poem is pregnant with deep longings. It expresses the poet’s deep-seated desire for the lovely island of Innisfree. The poem has another quality of lyrics, namely music. The rhythm has haunting melody and dreamy suggestiveness.


      The poem belongs to the poet’s early period. The style is picturesque and ornate. The poem is remarkable for its pictorial quality. Note the splendid picture of the beautiful sights and sounds of the island.

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