Compare and contrast the style of William Butler Yeats in his poems  "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" and "The Wild Swans at Coole."

Expert Answers
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to compare and contrast William Butler Yeats' "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" (to be known as LII) and "The Wild Swans at Coole" (to be known as WSC) rhyme, meter, poetic devices, and meaning will be examined.

Rhyme and Form

LII: This poem is written using alternating rhyme. The rhyme of the poem is abab / cdcd / efef. The poem is written using three stanzas of four lines each (quatrain).

WSC: This poem contains the abcbdd rhyme scheme. The poem is written using five stanzas, each containing six lines (sexain). 


LII: The poem follows no meter. Some lines contain thirteen syllables; others contain nine.

WSC: This poem's meter is iambic (meaning its iambic foot is unstressed / stressed). Some lines contain four metrical feet (tetrameter); other lines contain three feet (trimeter). Therefore, although loosely followed, the poem contains both iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter.

Poetic Devices

LII: Alliteration and assonance appear in the poem. Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound; assonance is the repetition of a vowel sound. Alliteration is found in line three where the "h" sound repeats in "have," "hive," and "honey." Assonance is found in line nine where the "i" sound repeats in "I," "will," and "arise."

WSC: This poem uses alliteration as well. Alliteration is found in line three where the "t" sound is repeated in "October," "twilight," and "water." It also contains a homograph (word with multiple meaning). The poem uses the word "still" in multiple ways.


LII: This poems illustrates the healing power of nature, the importance of imagination (promise of more), and remembrance of better times.

WSC: This poem illustrates the power of nature and imagination. Here though, the speaker wishes to be like nature (wild, unbridled, and free).

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both of Yeats's poems use nature as the vehicle for expressing sentiment, and each poem has its own message.

In "The Lake at Innisfree" the speaker projects himself, in great detail, to a bucolic setting where he imagines building a cabin, keeping bees, growing beans, and enjoying his solitude in nature. These imaginings sustain the speaker when he is on the roads and pavements of a more urban place.

The poem's structure is comprised of three quatrains (four-line stanzas) with an alternating rhyme scheme; the end rhymes are ABAB/CDCD/EFEF. The speaker uses the first-person followed by future tense verbs or verb phrase to describe the future ("I will" and "I shall") contrasted with the present tense verbs that describe his current state: "I stand" and "I hear."

"The Wild Swans at Coole" evokes different, more melancholy emotions than "The Lake at Innisfree." The speaker reflects on loss and the toll time takes on a person's psyche as he contemplates the lives of the swans he has observed over a number of years.

The poem is structured with five six-line stanzas, and the rhyme scheme is roughly ABCBDD, though there are alterations and near rhymes that create a dissonance that reinforces the unsettling observations in the poem.

Read the study guide:
The Lake Isle of Innisfree

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question