Compare and contrast "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" and "Wild Swans of Coole."

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"The Wild Swans of Coole" and "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" both celebrate the beauty and peace of nature. Both are simple poems that use imagery —what we can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell—to show what the speaker finds compelling in a natural location. In "Wild Swans,"...

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"The Wild Swans of Coole" and "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" both celebrate the beauty and peace of nature. Both are simple poems that use imagery—what we can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell—to show what the speaker finds compelling in a natural location. In "Wild Swans," it is the beauty of the swans that draws the narrator, for instance, as they take flight, when they:

scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
In "Lake Isle" he uses images of how he imagines living in peace and solitude in a natural place far from others:
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.
Both poems are exact about numbers. The nine rows of beans in "Lake Isle" and the fifty-nine swans in "Wild Swan" give both poems a sense of verisimilitude and solidity.
However, "Lake Isle" is about stasis: all that changes on the isle is the time of day. In it, the narrator, standing on a city pavement, dreams of a safe, unchanging place of retreat. In "Wild Swans," however, the poet is acutely concerned with time's passage. He laments how he has changed in the nineteen years since he began keeping track of the swans, and worries about a future when they will have left. "Lake Isle" envisions an escape from rush and fast-paced time; "Wild Swans" expresses fear about the changes and losses time bring.
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These two poems by William Butler Yeats are perfect examples of his early tributes to his native country, Ireland, in which he reminisces about his childhood memories and subtly laments the loss of innocence those memories represent, in light of Ireland’s later political and religious troubles.  The wild swans speak of tradition, of rhythms and harmonies and predictability – “wander where they will” – and the love their lifelong pairing represents.  “Innisfree”, on the other hand, addresses Yeats’ wish to return to those innocent days that he hears “in the deep heart’s core.”  It is much more descriptive of the landscape, with textural details such as “evening full of linnet’s wings” and lake water lapping.”  The poems taken together serve as brackets to his thinking – one a remembrance of tranquility, and the other a wish for its return.  Also, the “swans” are purely natural, while “Innisfree” speaks of man-made (“a small cabin”) artifacts.

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