A well-known poem by the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) evokes the same mood as the one created in Thoreau's chapter in Walden titled "Where I Live and What I Lived For" and elsewhere throughout the book. Yeats was directly inspired by reading Thoreau. As Yeats says:
"When I was a young lad in the town of Sligo I read Thoreau's essays and wanted to live in a hut on an island in Lough Gill called Innisfree which means "Heather Island." I wrote the poem in London when I was about 23."
Here is Yeats' poem in full:
THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Walden was not written for everyone. Many people could not stand living alone for more than a few days. But Thoreau's book appeals to some individuals who have philosophical and studious temperaments and are looking for solitude and peace of mind. As Yeats says in his poem, "And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow..." It is so easy to get entangled in work and bills, "getting and spending," in our modern world. We are always getting ready to live but never really living. Even if we can't succeed in living the kind of life led by Thoreau and envisioned by Yeats, we can at least share that life vicariously by reading Walden, a book in which Nature herself seems to be speaking to some of us directly.