The Man Who Dreamed of Faeryland: Summary & Analysis

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Stanza I

      (This is the story of a man who tried to escape from the world of reality into the world of imagination).

      This man stood in a crowd at a place called Dromahair. He was looking intently at a girl with a silken dress. It meant that he had known some sort of love before he was taken away from this world and buried in a grave. This man thought of an imaginary world when he poured the fish all together in a bowl. It seemed they raised their silver heads and. sang of the golden light (dawn and dusk) in the sky which they saw in an imaginary and dreamy island. People on this island, also loved the beauty of the seas and their vows of love were not subject to decay or destruction due to the passage of time. Their vows of love were made under the woven, and permanent roof of the branches. The singing of the birds took him away from worldly love to another world which was more beautiful and lovely.

Stanza II

      This man roamed on the sands on the shore near Lissadell. His mind was acquainted with the anxieties and fears involved in the making of money. It meant that he had amassed some wealth and known affluence before he was buried in a grave at the foot of the hill. But as he passed near plashy place, a lug-worm with its grey and dirty mouth sung to him about the existence of a beautiful place somewhere to north or west or south where dwelt a happy and gentle race of fairies under the golden light in the sky. The fairy danced continuously except, when feeling hungry; she would pluck the fruit from the sun and the moon. As he heard the singing of the fairies, his worldly wisdom came to an end.

Stanza III

      This man pondered as he stood beside the well in a place called Scanavin. He thought over his enemies who had ridiculed him. Perhaps he could find some satisfaction in devising some ways of revenge. But earth claimed his body in the grave. In old age, he could observe a small piece of grass, growing by the pool, singing to him of a lovely place where the chosen ones lead happy life. Whatever moods and tensions appeared in the day time were covered, with piece of wool at midnight in the fairyland. The old lover felt at ease. The fairyland drove away his anger and tension.

Stanza IV

      This man slept under the hill of Lugnagall and might have got some undisturbed and deep sleep under the cover of the cold and dewy slope of the hill. Now, that he was dead and buried, the worms in the grave roamed among his bones and cried to him about the imaginary world which God had created with his fingers and from which the eternal light of summer flowed to the dancer near the sea. Why should those lovers, living in the fairy world enjoy a love which is not possible for lovers on earth? These earthly thoughts disturbed the lover in his grave and he found no peace or comfort after his death.

Critical Analysis


      This poem is included in the volume of poems entitled The Rose published in 1893. As the title of this poem suggests, it is romantic in character. It deals with the life of a man who wanted to run away from the responsibilities and tensions of the world into the world of fairies. In his youth, he made love but it was neither lasting nor happy. He could only think of the endless and joyous love possible in the fairy-land. In his middle age, he paid attention to business and money-making and yet never felt happy. All his worldly wisdom and business acumen vanished when he heard of the care-free and happy life of the fairies living in an imaginary land. In old age, he reflected, on his achievements and frustrations. He was much disturbed by the thoughts of revenge against men who had stood in his way and ridiculed, him. His thoughts of anger disappeared when a piece of grass sang to him of the pleasures of the fairyland. Now that the man is dead and gone, he does not have peace and quiet in his grave. The poet’s idea is that there is no real escape from the responsibilities of the world in which we live. Even after death, a man who has shirked that challenges of life will be troubled by his own disappointments and frustrations. This is the penalty which a dreamer has to pay for finding an escape from life into the world of imagination and romance.

Development of Thought

      The poet deals with the life of an Irish dreamer. He has mentioned actual places—Dromahair, Lissadell and Scanavin which the dreamer visited. His grave is, however, to be found at Lugnagall. The poet dwells on the career of such a man and feels that he has failed in life and as such can have no peace comfort in the grave. A man who cannot face the challenges of modem existence is doomed to fail even if he seeks temporary respite in the Cuckoo-land of the fairies. This man in his youth had known the love of women, but he dreamt of eternal and all—happy love which is not possible in this world. In middle age, he took to business and made some money, but the thought of permanent joy and peace—which he could not find in worldly business—took him to the world of fairies and made him forget the thought of collecting silver and gold. In fact, the images of silver and gold recur throughout the poem (L1, 6,7,21,33). The silvery heads of fish, the gold light in the morning and evening, the golden or silver skies and the stormy silver fret the gold of the day create the romantic atmosphere to which the protagonist turns in order to escape the hardships and cruelties of the real world.

The Wide Gulf

      Is a life of permanent love and joy possible anywhere in the world? Even a temporary respite fairy-land will only intensify the gulf between the actual and the ideal, between the world of man and the world of fairies. In the third stanza, the protagonist thinks, of his enemies and rivals—those who tried to pull him down—and his mind is disturbed with thoughts of irritation and anger. Is it possible to pay such men in the same coin? Fortunately, the grass sings to him to the lovely fairyland and his mind becomes calm and peaceful but only for the time being. Does such a man enjoy peace in his grave after life’s fitful fever is over? The poet feels that the escape from life has its own adverse consequences. Such an escapist cannot find peace in the grave.


      It is a beautiful poem of four stanzas of twelve lines each. It deals symbolically with the four stanzas of man’s life—youth, middle age, old age and death. Though Yeats was a romantic poet who chose to live in the world of the past and of imagination, he did not believe in running away from the trials and tribulations of life. Happiness cannot be found in the world of imagination. Life has its own joys and sorrows and to think of world without conflicts and frustrations is to ask for the impossible. The challenge of life, if met, give their own satisfaction. Running away from life will not give comfort even in the grave. The poem contains beautiful images of the fairyland. As a critic puts it, it is “a prophetic poem; its stanzas could stand as epitaphs for the chapters of Yeats’s biography.”

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