What is the particular appeal of this escapist poem, and what is the effect of the repetition of the line 'I will arise and go now'? "Lake Ilse of Innisfree" by William Butler Yeats.  

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Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The particular appeal of the poem "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" by William Butler Yeats is the sense of freedom inherent in the poem through one withdrawing from society and living a life of solitude and seclusion with nature. This is appealing to many readers of the poem, especially when read against the backdrop of today's often hectic and chaotic society.

From the opening line of the poem it is evident to the reader that the writer has had enough of the society he is presently a part of; the line "I will arise and go now," indicates that it is time for the writer to make a change in their life situation. It is time for them to take action for their own health - their physical, mental, and spiritual health. Therefore, he will go now to Innisfree and live a life that is hopefully more content.

Contentment will come from working with the earth, and through enjoying and engaging the life forms that inhabit the earth. The writer has already made his plans that will contribute to an enhanced life:

     Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;

The goal of the writer is to live alone, which alludes to the idea that he has had enough of dealing with other human beings on a daily basis. Therefore, the appeal of this poem is inherent in the original question asked - escapism and escapist actions that will take him far from his usual environs, as well as family, friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances.

The poem is appealing because the writer is trying to achieve peace and he realizes that peace "comes dropping slow." Consequently, achieving peace is something that is often rare, and always worthwhile. Therefore it is something of value to people and worth sacrificing for, which in the case of this poem is the sacrificing of another way of life.

The effect of the repetition of the line "I will arise and go now" is that it is a hint of the writer's mortality and the proverbial march of time. He will arise and continue on with his life to its inevitable end. Life continues on as methodically and regularly as the lapping of water on the lake shore. The writer hears this water lapping and knows his life is progressing towards old age, if he isn't already old. The writer seeks peace and contentment in his golden years.


William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fact that the speaker repeats the line "I will arise and go now" suggests that he may only be fantasizing about actually going to the lake isle of Innisfree. He describes the place beautifully, but he isn't actually there or on his way there, and he may never get there. He is in fact confined to the crowded, ugly, noisy city and only imagining the lake water lapping and all the other beautiful things he describes. He is a lot like some of us who live in cities and work at jobs we hate. Yeats was inspired by reading Thoreau's Walden. His poem is an expression of the feelings he derived from reading Thoreau's book, which makes it seem not only desirable but feasible to live in peace and harmony with nature. When Yeats was old he was still dreaming of escape, as he writes in his poem "Sailing to Byzantium."