Critical Appreciation of The Lake Isle of Innisfree by WB Yeats
I’ll begin this essay with the reading of the poem:-
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.
Okay, now when you look at this poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree in its entirety and knowing that the author wrote this while living in London. You can sense attention he creates as he moves from one line to the next even though he never writes of or mentions London in his poem. You can feel his disdain as he writes longingly of the place he yearns for he is contrasting this with the place he wants to live. His description of his Island oasis with this tranquility and solitude is like a list of everything that is missing in London where the boundaries of the city are like the shoreline on his island of despair.
So let’s take a closer look at this poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree, first let’s start with the title. Since this is a real place that exists in Los Gil Ireland the name Innisfree translates to Heather Island and was a place very familiar to the author. I feel it is important to note here that the island is the topic of the poem while the lake acts like a buffer zone that separates the author’s sanctuary from the rest of the world.
The rhyme scheme is in AB AB format with a mood that is very calming and harmonious with nature. The meter changes from hexameter and the first three lines of each stanza to tetrameter in the fourth line of each stanza and the rhyme scheme a meter together help give the reading of this poem a hypnotic effect which works well with the tranquil content of the poem.
In the very first line, the author wastes no time escaping the grasp of the city. Even though he is a willing prisoner of city life he appears to show his disdain for the city by boldly stating that he can leave its grasp at any time. Even if the city still holds his physical body prisoner within its boundaries he is still free to arise and go in his mind and escape the noise and chaos of a place that allows him no sanctuary. In the second line we again see the disdain for modern city living we’re tall buildings and people are crowded together and pavement and brick take up all of the free space in stark contrast to this is a small cabin of simple design providing nothing but the basics yet it provides the author with everything he longs for. This third line shows that this oasis wasn’t just a passing thought and that the author even planned for his own sustenance in addition to providing the bees which would be needed to pollinate the crops that would sustain him. Again this is in contrast to the people living in the city who had very little thought or knowledge about where their food came from that was bought off the shelf. And the first stanza ends showing how content the author is with the world he has created. He has shelter, food and above all else solitude. The contrast here is that he finds peace and serenity and the buzz of excitement as numerous bees go about their chores but the many sounds of the city that blend together in a buzz of excitement is nothing but distracting to the author.
And the first two lines of the middle stanza so explicitly what the author is after which is peace. The contrast here is that you can find peace in the city. But it is a scattered piece or a shattered piece catching a brief snippet whenever or wherever you can. It’s quick to come and just as quick to leave but it Innisfree the peace comes dropping slow. It is all-encompassing and slowly saturates your soul from the first hint of sunrise that slowly burns away that blanket of morning haze until the songs of cricket harken a night. And the third line continues with the visual imagery of Innisfree with its knight Salah glimmer which I’m sure refers to the starry nights whereas the only stars are only the brightest stars are seen in a night sky of the city. It’s interesting that the author uses twelve O’Clock for his reference to night and day when so often these two times are referenced by sunrise and sunset instead of midnight and noon. The middle stanza ends with the sky filled with birds on winged heading to wherever they will rest for the night silhouetted against the Setting Sun. I like the contrast between this and the end of a city day where people are noisily and hurriedly making their way home at the end of another dreary workday.
The final stanza again the author’s stating he will arise and go. But this time there feels a finality to his statement everything previous to this stanza was a description of what it was Oasis would look like and now that his Oasis is complete its solitude and tranquillity are forever calling to him night and day. And night the low sound of water lapping at the shores like a steady heartbeat a rhythmic beckoning to come be a part of the landscape of his desires. And the final part of this poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree, the author once again showing his dislike of the city as he describes himself standing in the street the dull colorless drab and dreary city street where inspiration lies dormant and all that excites and tortures his soul as the ever-present calling of his magical oasis with promises of the solitude and serenity that he desperately craves.