The Lake Isle of Innisfree

by William Butler Yeats

Start Free Trial

Please explain the figures of speech in "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" by William Butler Yeats.

William Butler Yeats's poem "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" uses many figures of speech, including imagery, repetition, inference, personification, and onomatopoeia. Together, these evoke the peaceful, eternal, and deeply personal feelings that arise from contemplating nature.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

[eNotes editors are only permitted to answer one question per posting. If you have additional questions, please post them separately.]

In William Butler Yeat's poem, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree," there are several figures of speech used.

In the last line of the first stanza, Yeats writes,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

This is a beautiful example of imagery.

Yeats also uses repetition, as seen in these lines from the second stanza, where "peace" and "dropping" are repeated.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils...

Later, we find inference and imagery when Yeats writes:

And evening full of the linnet's wings

The inference here is that the evening is full of the sound of the fluttering of birds' wings. (A "linnet" is a kind of finch.) The imagery is the mental image we have of the sound of flapping birds' wings.

In "where the cricket sings," personification is used, giving the cricket the human ability to sing, which a cricket cannot do. (This is also a form of imagery.)

"There midnight's all a-glimmer" uses inference, inferring that the sky is full of stars—or lightning bugs, or both.

Imagery is used again in "and noon a purple glow..."

"I hear lake water lapping" contains onomatopoeia in describing a sound with a word, "lapping."

Imagery is also used in, "I hear it in the deep heart's core."

Overall, repetition is used in the lines, "I will arise and go now," repeated in the first line of the first stanza, and the first line of the third (and last) stanza.

You might be interested to know that the poem is written in four-line stanzas, which follow the rhyme scheme of ABAB. This means that the last word of the first line and the last word of the third line, rhyme ("Innisfree" and "honeybee"). The second and the four lines also rhyme, but with a different sound ("made" and "glade").

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team