The Wild Swans at Coole by William Butler Yeats

The Wild Swans at Coole by William Butler Yeats

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'The Wild Swans at Coole' by William Butler Yeats is a classical in its smoothness and lucidity. It shows the influence of Wordsworth in that the poet here uses Nature as a medium to convey personal emotion. What however distinguishes from the poems of Wordsworth is its mood. The poet, who is now old, looks at the familiar spectacre of 59 swans moving together in loving pairs or flying up on noisy winds. This spectacle makes him brood on the change that time has wrought in him, while the birds are patently untouched by it:

Their hearts have not grown old
Passion and conquest

In the background of this lament lies Yeat's frustration in love for MaudGone and her daughter IsaualtGonne. The poem runs on the contrast between the change which has come over the poet, and the wild spirits of the swans which has denied the effects of time. In one sense, the swans stand for life-force: there hearts have not grown old, and they find the stream companionable despite its coldness. In another sense, they stand for the union of time and the timeless. The poet has seen these swans for 19 years. But all on a sudden they start scattering away, wheeling in great broken winds upon their clamorous wings. In the past he used to look upon those creatures with joy and pleasure but now his heart is sour. The swans remind of his former freshness and his youth and make him despondent.

However, to consider the Wild Swans at Coole as a poem of personal unhappiness, which is described against a background of nature, would be overlooking the other possible interpretations. The poem also deals with death and immortality. The 'Swans in the The Coole Park and Ballyle' may not be equivated with the soule: but their flight from earth to sky may be said to represent "Immortality". They unite the time with the timeless and the temporal with the eternal. They are symbolic of live-force and of poetic inspiration or imagination. They are vigorous and powerful.

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In the last stanza, the poet also describes them as 'mysterious and beautiful'. He asks a question as to where they will be when he finds them flown away. In other words, the poet is pained to see the swans have flown away. Perhaps they might be providing the light to some other beholder near some othe Lake which they have beautified. His only consolation is that the dream which the swans inhabit remains at his calling and they continue to inspire him.
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