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Wild Swan at Coole

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Introduction

The trees are in their autumn beauty, A Tetrameter The woodland paths are dry, B Trimeter Under the October twilight the water C Tetrameter Mirrors a still sky; B Trimeter Upon the brimming water among the stones D Pentameter Are nine-and-fifty swans. D Trimeter The nineteenth autumn has come upon me A Tetrameter Since I first made my count; B Trimeter I saw, before I had well finished, C Tetrameter All suddenly mount B Trimeter And scatter wheeling in great broken rings D Pentameter Upon their clamorous wings. D Trimeter I have looked upon those brilliant creatures, A Tetrameter And now my heart is sore. B Trimeter All's changed since I, hearing at twilight, C Tetrameter The first time on this shore, B Trimeter The bell-beat of their wings above my head, D Pentameter Trod with a lighter tread. ...read more.

Middle

two trimeter lines, which give the poet an opportunity to utter short, heartfelt statements before a long silence ensured by the short line. WHO IS THE SPEAKER? An adult caught up in the gentle pain of personal memory who contrasts sharply with the swans, which are treated as symbols of the essential: their hearts have not grown old; they are still attended by passion and conquest. HOW DO THE PATTERNS WORK TOGETHER? The poem is written in a very regular stanza form: five six-line stanzas, each written in a roughly iambic meter, with the first and third lines in tetrameter, the second, fourth, and sixth lines in trimeter, and the fifth line in pentameter, so that the pattern of stressed syllables in each stanza is 434353. ...read more.

Conclusion

The swans are at once both in and out of time which deepens the paradox. A word that is perhaps overlooked because it is only in the title is "Wild." Yeats called the swans wild to indicate that they are not domesticated. They do not nest at Coole. Thus, as the poem's ending suggest, they may fly away at any time. He associated the quality of wildness with the power and freedom of flight. The wild swans at Coole are independent, vigorously active and passionate. The second stanza provides a powerful image of the whole flock of swans taking off in unison: "I saw...," "All suddenly mount," "And scatter wheeling in great broken rings" and "upon their clamorous wings." The verb "mount" has duality, referring to the swans' ascension into the sky, but also provides overtones to another meaning: to copulate. The verb brings together his main associations with wildness: power, freedom and passion. The Wild Swans at Coole William Butler Yeats ...read more.

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