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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 277

“Wild Swans” is the speaker’s recollection of watching swans fly overhead. She begins by explaining that seeing the swans made her look into her heart, apparently expecting to find something new. Instead, she merely saw what she had seen before. Any change in her heart was minimal (“Only a question less or a question more”) and did not compare to the awesome spectacle of the swans in flight. She perceives the swans as untamed and free; every mention of them includes the word “wild.” The swans embody freedom because they are in flight, literally liberated from the earth. The speaker marvels at their sense of direction and purpose, which stands in marked contrast to the uncertainty of her heart.

Lines five and six are introspective and personal, moving from observing the external world to evaluating the internal world. The speaker addresses her heart, calling it “tiresome” and referring to it as a “house without air.” The tone is one of exasperation, and it is clear that the speaker longs to be free of her feelings because she has been through emotional turmoil. She decides to free herself by closing her heart and abandoning her emotions (“I leave you and lock your door”).

Once she has detached herself from her emotional upheaval, she needs somewhere to go or someone to follow. At this moment, she recalls the swans and beckons them to come again. She is eager for them to return and repeats her plea: “Wild swans, come over the town, come over / The town again, trailing your legs and crying!” The last image reveals that the speaker identifies with the swans and sees herself in them.

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