The Lake Isle of Innisfree Questions and Answers
by William Butler Yeats

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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.

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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").

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renoa | Student

In this poem we have lots of images and figures of speech such as :


The images:

The poets  describes the atmosphere well by imagining peace dropping from the morning sky:

‘for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings’.


The morning does not literally or really have ‘veils’. This is word that suggests mists in the sky. Neither can ‘peace’ ‘drop’ in a physical sense. The word ‘dropping’ is therefore another metaphor when used with ‘peace’.

In the second line Yeats gave us a more physical image of the little cabin made of prehistoric clay and wattles.

‘hive for the honeybee’ .

The image of the grey pavements of London streets is less pleasant but more real than many of the other images.

Yeats used contrast especially between the colourful images of the island and the dull image of the city.


Overall the poem is based on two contrasting images:

the city and the island.

The colours ‘purple’ and ‘grey’ show this contrast. The island is bright and musical while the city is dreary. You can see this difference if you contrast ‘lake water lapping’ on the island to the ‘roadway’ in London where there is no peace. Note the pleasant ‘l’ sound repeated in the Inisfree descriptions.

There is also a strong image of the poet’s memory of Inisfree. He claims to

‘hear it in the deep heart's core’.

This is a metaphor because the ear does not really connect to the heart. It is a way of emphasising the deep, spiritual feeling of the poet. The overall image is of memory. His memory gives him a desire to return there again for its beauty.

The image of the ear listening to nature is repeated in five images throughout the poem:

‘bee-loud’, ‘cricket sings’, ‘linnets wings’, ‘water lapping’.

Yeats also uses ‘I hear’ twice, which emphasises the ear as a main image in this poem.