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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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