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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.

BACKGROUND: When Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was a child, his father read to him from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. While a teenager, Yeats wished to imitate Thoreau by living on Innisfree, an uninhabited island in Lough Gill [County Sligo, Ireland]. Yeats would visit the land at Lough Gill at night — the trips taking him from the streets of Sligo to the remote areas around the lake, offering the contrasting images of the city and nature that appear in the poem’s text. While living in London, Yeats would walk down Fleet Street and long for the seclusion of a pastoral setting such as the isle. The sound of water coming from a fountain in a shop window reminded Yeats of the lake, and it is this inspiration that Yeats credits for the creation of the poem, written in 1888, when he was 23. (Read more at wikipedia.org.)

PHOTO: “Isle of Innisfree, Lough Gill, Country Sligo, Ireland” by the Irish Image Collection. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and, along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, and others, founded the Abbey Theatre, where he served as its chief during its early years. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature,  the first Irishman so honored, for what the Nobel Committee described as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after receiving the Nobel Prize. (SOURCE: wikipedia.org.)