“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”
by William Butler Yeats
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 grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
What I like about this beautiful poem is its simplicity and clarity. The first stanzas tell you he is going to an island, and he can already imagine himself there. Next he tells you about his physical needs for food and shelter. The second stanza turns to his spiritual needs. What he needs most is peace. The final stanza signals his intent to leave but, surprisingly, he continues to hear the sounds of the island when he’s in the city. Now we understand. Innisfree is an internal place that we find in our hearts. Yeasts wants to be somewhere better than where he is. What a wonderful poem; it is worth the memorizing.
Innisfree sits in the middle of Lough Gill, a lake in County Sligo in northwest Ireland.