‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ by William Butler Yeats.


By 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 honeybee,
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.


Lots of repetition, alliteration and imagery...

I first learned this beautiful poem (off by heart) from a SIster of Mercy (Carysfort College, Blackrock, Dublin) postulant who came to Goldenbridge industrial *school* during the sixties. The postulants in general came periodically to test out their newly acquired teaching skills on some of the incarcerated children. It is rather ironic, that the same children were not deemed fit enough to be sent to the outside national school, yet, by the same token, were learning poems of this ilk that one habitually sees on the Leaving Cert curriculum.

See link: Yeats reads the poem that, according to an Irish Times survey, tops the list of ‘Ireland’s 100 favourite poems’.

brychar66 says to a commenter at youtube:

“Glad you liked it, it’s from an old recording that’s been in my possession for 40 years or more”

More from Yeats himself.

This richly textured spoken verse is very well done… it could be Yeats.

Exquisite video footage here, and it’s…As Gaeilge.

This is an interesting aspect to the poem.

When Yeats was a child, his father had read to him from Walden by Henry David Thoreau, and Yeats described his inspiration for the poem by saying that while he was a teenager, he wished to imitate Thoreau by living on Innisfree, an uninhabited island in Lough Gill.

An observation: Innisfree, from what I gather, from somebody who visited there, is only a very small island. Nothing great in size to write home about  at all – however, it is big in nature and wild-life.


“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”
There is so much to learn and analyse at SparkNotes
Update: Am just listening to Ronan Collins interviewing Mike Scott, who heads rock-band Waterboys. It’s concerning the latest album An Appointment with Mr. Yeats. He sang Lake Isle of Innisfree. It was terrific. The reinvention of Yeats’ poetry is a fantastic idea. Scott has been working on the project for nigh on twenty years. It has been a labour of love. I think students studying Yeats for the Leaving Cert will see Yeats in a new accessible light after listening to the album.
The Youtube footage wobbles somewhat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s