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

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How can I analyze "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" poem for symbolism, theme, personification, and use of imagery?

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The cabin on the lake symbolizes the simple life, a life free of distraction and troubles.  Symbolism is an object that has a meaning larger than itself.  Just as the cabin is simple, “of clay and wattles made,” this life allows us to rely on nothing more than ourselves.  We have, as is repeated in the poem, “peace there.”  Peace, solitude, and nothing but the sound of the waves lapping?  What could be more simple.

A theme in the poem is mankind’s love of nature.  Theme is a message.  From nature we came, and to nature we long to go back.  This is why we go camping and hiking, and take long walks and bike rides.  The fact that the cabin is made of natural materials emphasizes this connection to nature.  So is what’s outside the cabin.

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

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

You can see it in the emphasis on peace, solitude, returning to the land, and living off the land.  This is what people often want, the ability to be one with the land.  It might be gardening or simply taking a walk, but this poem captures that wish. 

An example of personification is “where the cricket sings.”  Personification is when you describe something like a human when it’s not.  Crickets do not literally sing.  They make a sound like music, which we describe as human-like singing.

Imagery is descriptive language.  It can be sensory language, such as “cricket sings” and “pavements grey.”  One appeals to the sense of sound, and the other the sense of sight.  You can also hear the crickets sing, linnet’s wings, and bees buzz, and see the nine rows of beans and purple glow.

The poem paints a pretty picture of a simple little cabin by a lake.  Like the subject, the poem is simple.  It has only three stanzas of four lines each.  It uses a simple rhyme scheme the reinforces the simplicity of its subject, and creates a sense of peace, harmony, and escape.

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