“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” in Lough Gill, Ireland by W. B. Yeats

The Lake Isle of Innisfree, Lough Gill, near Sligo, Ireland. PHOTO CREDIT: Oliver Dixon. This photo is licensed under the the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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.

In William Butler Yeats’ “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” the speaker imagines escaping his urban environment marked by “pavements grey” and beginning a simple life on the island growing beans and tending to bees. Yeats had visited Lough Gill, the lake in western Ireland which contains the island, often in his youth, and would think of the island while living in London.

The small island in the center of the map is Innisfree. Zoom out to gain a better sense of its size and location.

Despite its renown gained from Yeats’ poem, Innisfree is a small island without many distinguishing features. In this, however, it remains little changed since Yeats would have first seen it in the latter half of the 1800s. Yeats’ grandfather owned property near Lough Gill, and Yeats thought of the island as a place where he could live out his own version of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Lough Gill is approximately five miles long and one mile wide, largely surrounded by woodlands. Boat tours of the lake, including some that offer views of Innisfree, depart from nearby Sligo Town.

Read more about “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” and Lough Gill on Wikipedia. Find Selected Poems and Four Plays at a local library or on Amazon.

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