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The Wild Swans At Coole By William Butler Yeats

1403 words - 6 pages

Yeats is 54 when he writes this poem as he was born in 1865. The poem is set in Coole Park owned by Lady Gregory, an aristocrat who was a great supporter of Irish Writers and she often invited them to stay at her estate, especially Yeats. He refers to this place not as Coole Park but as "Coole" which shows he is familiar to the estate. The first time Yeats visited Coole Park was 19 years ago when he was 35 and what he remembers most about it each year is counting swans which creates an image of leisure as to count "nine-and-fifty swans", Yeats must have had a lot of time and his mind must have been at ease.The poem opens with a setting describing a soft time of day - "twilight" - when the ...view middle of the document...

Yeats recalls that exactly the same thing happened to him 19 years ago, the first time he came to Coole Park: the swans flew up at twilight, "hearing at twilight", and he could hear "the bell-beat of their wings", which again suggests a clamorous disturbance to a peaceful environment. Because this is a repetition of an incident, Yeats is compelled to compare himself between then and now and feels tremendously sad with the realisation of what effect age has had on him. He remembers how he "trod with a lighter tread" because he had no worries on his mind, but now his mind seems weighted with the burdens of life. Yeats also creates a pathetic fallacy, as he uses the weather to describe his mood: he sets the incident in "twilight", which hints at how his life is in "twilight" - he is not young anymore, but still not completely old; he is at the stage where his youth fades into old-age.In Verse 4, Yeats creates a conceit that suggests the swans are the same swans he saw 19 years ago, and that they have not grown any older - that they symbolise eternal youth, "Their hearts have not grown old". Yeats paints multiple images that connect the swans to eternal youth. He describes the swans as "Unwearied still" which shows they are still bursting with vitality. He gives them freedom, "wander where they will", and also "Passion or Conquest" which suggests that they have extreme will and drive found in youths and that they are all passionate in love, "lover by lover", this is another conceit that suggests each swan has stayed with its lover for all these years. This is all in implicit contrast with Yeats who feels tired and old. He feels he has lost his freedom and seems to be trapped in his life - every year at the same time he is at the same place with no change. He has lost his "Passion or conquest" he had in his youth.The last image is of freedom. Yeats thinks about the future of these swans and envisions them building nests by the edge of a lake for their children. This image shows how the swans still have much of a future and unpredictability in their lives: he describes the image as "Mysterious, beautiful". The image depicts the swans starting a new chapter in life and again this is in complete contrast with Yeats, as he feels he has reached a dead end: he is 54, alone and he feels he has no future. This image in Yeats' mind is also beautiful and almost idyllic; and therefore the contrast between this image and Yeats' depression is substantial, and this...

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