Lake Isle of Innisfree – The Intentional Arising of Freedom

The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder. Ralph W. Sockman

The Lake Isle of Innisfree is one of W. B. Yeats best known poems. It has been recited and sung by many various artists down the years.

Myriad numbers of school children have been required to summit the Lake Isle of Innisfree poem analysis as part of their exam curriculm.

This poem is one of the 10 poems featured in A Journey with Mr. Yeats – 10 Poems for Companioning YOUR Greatness. It is the the intention of this writer to take you on a journey of transformation. This is an inner journey to the island of freedom that is the experience at the deep heart’s core.

In sharing this poem I will include:-

  • An audio recording of the poem (by the author).
  • The full text of the poem.
  • A literal summary of the Lake Isle of Innisfree
  • A symbolic summary of the Lake Isle of Innisfree (Video).
  • A list of other line by line reflections (coming later in March 2019)

Lake Isle of Innisfree – A Journey

The Lake Isle of Innisfree


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.
Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

Lake Isle of Innisfree Summary

Here I share two summaries in relation to the Lake Isle of Innisfree poem.  This is:-

  • The literal interpretation and
  • The symbolic or metaphorical interpretation.

In the opinion of the writer understanding poetry in a literal way misses the true power of  poetry. It may help the reader pass examinations but a literal understanding will not light the fire in the head (Song of Wandering Aengus)

Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire – W. B. Yeats

The Literal Summary

If you are interested in reading a Lake Isle of Innisfree summary you will probably search Google for a result. A major reason for writing this website dedicated to the poetry of W. B. Yeats is to invite you to explore the meaning of his poetry in ways that will touch your heart.

The text in quotes below is the top summary for this poem on the internet. I ask myself, “Is it any real wonder that young people are turned off the power of poetry.”

So you read this (which is nothing but facts and literalism) and what is the feeling that you take away from it. Does it invite a longing within your deep heart’s core. Are you willing to arise and go now.  Does it invite purpose, passion and peace as core invitations to living your life?

You are now informed about the poem. You might be better informed than you were before you read this summary but I can almost guarantee that from reading this summary you will not come away transformed.

Extract from Google Search

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Line 1

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree

  • The speaker states that he’s off to Innisfree. Uh, whootywhat?
  • Innisfree is a small island in a lake called Lough Gill, in Sligo County, Ireland.
  • Yeats grew up visiting Sligo every year, and taking small trips to Lough Gill.
  • You know what jumps out at Shmoop here? This speaker sounds pretty resolved. I will arise! And go now! And go to Innisfree!
  • Geez, buddy, we get it. So get movin’ already.

Line 2

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

  • First, we have to tell you that wattles are rods and stakes mixed with sticks and branches to make walls or fences. They sound hilarious, but they’re actually pretty standard fencing fare.
  • So he’s going to build a small cabin and it’s going to be pretty simple and rustic, right?
  • Right away we can tell this isn’t your typical dream-vacation fantasy palace. He’s not building some villa with an infinity pool.
  • And once again, we’ve got some serious determination on our hands. This guy is making plans. Let’s see if he keeps ’em.

Lines 3-4

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

  • He says he’s going to have a small bean garden and a beehive for honeybees. This guy sounds like he’s in serious need of retirement.
  • “Glade” is an open space in a forest, so you can probably picture the bee glade as a clearing in the woods surrounding his tiny cabin with swarms of honeybees.
  • In line 4 the speaker states that he wants to live alone, surrounded only by the sound of bees and the presence of nature. Why no friends and family to share it, buddy?
  • Anything else you Shmoopers notice? Oh! Oh! Pick me!
  • Yep, these lines create a rhyme scheme for the first stanza, when you combine them with the first two lines: ABAB. Innisfree rhymes with honeybee, and made rhymes with glade. Nifty, right? For more, check out our section on “Form and Meter.”

Extracted from

William Butler Yeats Weeps

William Butler Yeats was a Senetor in the Dail (Irish Parliment) for six years beginning in 1922.  One of his chief interests was in education. I think if he read the above Lake Isle of Innisfree summary he would weep from his deep heart’s core.

Yet this is what is on offer. The heart is left out and the head isn’t even set on fire (Song of Wandering Aengus). Yeats would be asking questions in the Dail (Irish Parliment) as to why poetry was being taught in this way.

Lake Isle of Innisfree Symbolic Summary

To understand this poem the reader needs to be aware of the  influence of the occult on Yeats’s poetry is infused with a sense of the otherworldly, the spiritual and the unknown.

Mysticism figures prominently in his discussion of the reincarnation of the soul, as well as in his philosophical model of the conical gyres used to explain the journey of the soul, the passage of time, and the guiding hand of fate.

I share with you a reflection on this poem that I made with the hope that it invites those who listen to explore a journey whereby, in the words of W. B. Yeats they might Companion their Greatness that is at their deep heart’s core.

It is my hope that the short invitation to the symbolic invitation from The Lake Isle of Innisfree invites you to feel a longing to be free from the experience of separation that causes most of the unnecesary suffering in the world.

I will be adding other pages related to the symbolic and metaphorical invitation that is the wonderful Lake Isle of Innisfree poem (from March 2019). These pages will explore:-

  • The peace that comes dropping slow.
  • The small cabin, the nine bean rows and the bee loud glade.
  • The pavements grey.
  • The lake waters lapping on the shore.
  • The deep heart’s core.

I hope that you will join me on this journey to the experience of freedom that is at your deep heart’s core and in doing so you learn to Companion YOUR Greatness.

Analysis of The Song of Wandering Aengus

The themes in this poem that Companions YOUR Greatness are:-

  • Yearning/Longing
  • Peace
  • Silence and
  • Intention


I will be adding a detailed page for each practice related to each poem. In this way you get a practical program of learning in HOW TO Companion your Greatness using the power of poetry. (From March 2019)

This is the real journey of arising and going now to Innisfree. It is a metaphor for your journey of unity of:-

  • The personal with the universal.
  • Time with the Timeless.
  • Human with the Divine

You have to decide if you will take the invitation literally as a poem about a longing to return to Sligo or the greater invitation to go to your deep heart’s core and become a Companion of Greatness.

It would be most appreciated if helped Companion my Greatness by either:-

  • Sharing this article on one of the soical media platforms listed below.
  • Leave a comment or ask a follow up question.
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