Yeats – The Lake Isle of Innisfree (1893)

Part of the Yeats’ second volume “The Rose” published in 1893. The poem is thought to have been composed in 1890. Takes the first-person pronoun as voice and assigns it action (“I will arise and go now”) in the sense that it takes or at least looks forward to responsibility. But the future undercuts the vision of the lake; in the final stanza, the present enters as check to the imagination:

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the lake water lapping with low sounds by the shorel
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s cove.

Along with the present comes the intrusion of “pavements grey,” which highlights the material necessity of actually traveling to such a locale (i.e. this is not in the imagination only!). Also, earlier, the cabin has already “of clay and wattles [been] made,” which shows that the vision of the lake has already been constructed before the poet enters the landscape. The present is thus a sticking point that cannot be escaped. But the “deep heart’s cove” does open a spatial coordinate that might offset the temporal constriction at least within the realm of poetic creation.


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