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

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What kind of life does the poet William Butler Yeats imagine in his poem "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"?  

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Yeats imagines Innisfree as an idyllic place of peace and solitude. He imagines a "small cabin" of "clay and wattles" where he will support himself on beans and honey from his bee hive, and he will "live alone in the bee-loud glade." There is also a sense that the "peace" he will find there is connected to its natural beauty, since peace "comes dropping slow, / Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings."

Of course, there is also the sense that this is perhaps not a real place, or that his imaginary conception of his life there is (knowingly) impractical or impossible. He hears the lapping water of the lake "always" while he is standing "on the roadway, or on pavements grey." In other words, Yeats's real world is a world of "pavements," a place where nature has been changed by man to make it easier to drive or conduct business. The contrast with the lake isle is stark: he feels a longing for this place of peace in his "heart's core," which could mean that he is longing for an ideal or feeling rather than an actual clay cabin.


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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In his poem "The Lake Isle of Innisfree," Yeats imagines a peaceful, removed life on an island. He imagines constructing a simple cabin made of "clay and wattles" and planting beans and having a bee hive. He also imagines a life of solitude, where the only noise will be the buzzing of the bees. His life on Innisfree will be peaceful, and nature will be at its idealistic best, with glimmering midnights and purple skies at noon. He also pictures a lake and the sound of lapping water.

The world Yeats conjures is one of solitude and escape from the noise of civilization. Innisfree is also free of human companionship, and Yeats seems to imagine living in a world in which he can largely be self-sufficient. This poem is an expression of the Romantic instinct to live on one's own with the inspiration of nature in a life of total simplicity. 

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