The Song of Wandering Aengus Analysis Line by Line

The Song of Wandering Aengus analysis may academically interest some. It may be a necessity for others to comment on it as part of their school curriculum. The intention of the writer in writing A Journey with Mr Yeats is, however, to invite an understanding of the poetry of W. B. Yeats in such a way that it becomes of practical use In everyday living.

For this purpose, I have included practices focused on learning to Companion your Greatness. Each practice will include:-

  • The Power of Reflection
  • The Power of Metaphor
  • The Power of Practice

The Power of Reflection

In A Journey with Mr Yeats – 10 Poems for Companioning YOUR Greatness I take various lines and begin with a reflection on what they mean to me. This is not an academic understanding.

Neither am I interested in the structure of the poem. I am interested in reading it and reflecting on it from “the deep heart’s core” (The Lake Isle of Innisfree).

The line from The Song of Wandering Anegus that I reflect on here is:-

I threw a berry in a stream and caught a little silver trout

When you go fishing, especially  “when white moths were on the wing”you need patience. You learn to wait without waiting. You cast your line, your intention into the stream of infinite possibility. You do not push the river.

You relax, allow and trust the Force to flow and to allow yourself to feel the connection. This is something that you alone must learn to do. It is education in learning to be.

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

A Journey with Mr Yeats – 10 Poems

This is not learning from a book. This feeling the connection to the Source of Life can be transmitted by one person to another but usually there is not enough trust to be able to receive the gift.

Usually this is because there is resistance. The resistance is usually related to not feeling worthy enough to receive the direct experience that is the wonder and magnificent you in truth are.

A Journey with Mr Yeats - 10 Poems for Companioning YOUR Greatness. Learn how to become living poetry Click To Tweet
song of wandering aengus poem analysis

The Journey of Companioning YOUR Greatness requires infinite patience. It is not so much about learning as learning how to unlearn. It is learning to be empty in order that you can feel the Force that leads you to fulfilment. Companioning YOUR Greatness is learning to let go into Life and Love.

This requires a willingness to trust your own magnificence and trust the unknown. You go fishing in the dark. You think you will catch one thing but you end up catching something that will change your life and that you know you have to seek (I will find out where she has gone).

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

The Song of Wandering Aengus Analysis

The Power of Metaphor

The Steam

What has, “I threw a berry in a stream and caught a little silver trout, “got to do with practical everyday living especially if as the poem suggests you go fishing when it is dark? (when white moths where on the wing)

This line from the poem The Song of Wandering Aengus is only of practical use to everyday living if you take the stream is a metaphor for your personal mind.

Metaphors thus allow us to make discoveries by seeing things in a new way.

A stream in order to be called a stream needs to flow. In practical everyday living terms most people’s minds are filled full of junk. For many their personal stream of consciousness is an experience of overflow. It is part of the everyday addiction, of most everyone, called ‘overthinking.’


I spent many an evening of my late teenage years by a stream fishing, not for silver trout, but for brown trout.

Many times that was when “white moths were on the wing.” While standing on the back of that stream/river (The Callen in The City of Armagh in Northern Ireland) I lost all sense of time.

Fishing as metaphor is used in the Bible. This metaphor is used when the Master Yesuha invites Simon of Galilee who will later be a disciple to “cast your nets to the other side.” (the right side)

In practical terms the invitation is not about learning a new fishing technique. It is about how to use your mind to connect to your true source of abundance and fulfilment.

The Berry

In The Song of Wandering Aengus the berry that Aengus casts into the stream represents a single thought. This, however, is not just any thought that you unconsciously allow to enter your steam of consciousness. This berry is what the Christian mystic Thomas Merton refers to as “a new seed of contemplation.”

A berry, a new seed of contemplation is a thought you consciously place in your mind that is life generative or that invites the direct experience of insight of flow of higher energy.

What we plant in the soil of contemplation we shall reap in the harvest of action – Meister Eckhart.The Silver Trout

There are many different interpretations of the fish as metaphor. Such interpretations include: –

  • The Higher Self
  • Deep Awareness
  • Sacred Feminine
  • Change

The symbolism differs from culture to culture and according to the type of fish. Christians use the symbol of a fish (The Ichthys) to represent Christ. From the fish symbolism, ancient Celts interpreted meanings of inspiration, infinite wisdom, inspiration, and prophecy. They thought that by eating fish, they, too, would be filled with wisdom.

Silver is associated with feminine energy (energy that is allowing and in flow) and with the goddess Artemis, the virgin goddess of the Hunt and the moon. It symbolizes feminine intuition and inner knowledge, (the right side) and is thus often associated with a higher spirituality.

When he “caught a little silver trout” Wandering Anegus caught something that he hadn’t reckoned with. The fact that the fish was silver should have indicated to him that he had in fact caught a creature from another dimension.

Metaphorically speaking catching the silver trout is where you are thought through by universal intelligence. It will change your life. This is the real meaning of the Biblical story inviting the fisherman Simon to cast his nets to the right.

So now that you the reader have been invited to understand the line “I threw the berry in a stream and caught a little silver trout” in what I hope is a more inspiring way and you understood it before what next?  The next step in the companioning your greatness process is to put what you have learned into practice.

The Power of Practice

In reading the reflection and in gaining a deeper appreciation of the metaphors included in the poem the time comes to act. This is the act and actions of companioning your greatness. This is more important than engaging in an intellectual analysis of The Song of Wandering Aengus.

The Stream

The first practice in companioning your greatness is to commit to the journey of becoming a ‘stream entrant.’

The most important stream is your stream of consciousness. This stream of consciousness is the stream of thoughts that pass through your personal mind. Science estimates that 60,000 thoughts pass through your mind on an average day. This is on a good day.

Most of these thoughts are repetitive and unconscious. These thoughts are the voice in your head that is like a badly tuned radio. It is always on and tuned to any wavelength that happens to be in the ether.

It is the equivalent of a stream/river running in spate. This is when a stream/river is running at speed following heavy rain. It is not the time to go fishing and especially not when “white moths are on the wing and moth like stars are flickering out.” 

The Foundational Practice

The foundational practice for companioning your greatness is to take command of the voice in your head. Without doing so there will be no casting of your net to the right side. There will be no space for you to be thought through by the universe.

Your life energy will be like a river/stream in spate. There will be no stillness, no depth and no reflection from this stillness. You will be flooded with anything that happens to fall into the stream of consciousness that is your personal mind.

The practices that clear the stream are any form of meditation, prayer or conscious body practice done daily. In the Christian tradition the word for meditation is contemplation. The practice of prayer as suggested here is not that practice understood to be some form of petitioning a universal force outside and separate from yourself.

NOTE I will be sharing here suggested practices of meditation, prayer and contemplation as part of the process of writing A Journey with Mr Yeats -10 Poems for Companioning YOUR Greatness.

Fishing -Intention

The practice of fishing refers to you consciously setting a clear intention.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver from The Summer Day.

The ability to consciously intend is foundational to companioning your greatness. It is the proper use of your personal will.

Nothing happens without intention. However, most of your intentions are not conscious. A practice of intentionality is referred to as setting your Sankalpa.

A Sankalpa is a true heart’s desire. It invites your arising and going into your deep heart’s core. (The Lake Isle of Innisfree)

NOTE  I will be writing a longer article on the practice of intentionality. I will set up a category at this website that includes all the practices that I share in brief in other postings.

The Berry – Contemplative Thought

So you have set your intention which is to commit to take command do your over thinking mind. You are intent on fishing for true meaning and purpose as it is intended to express as the free flow of your life energy.

You have gone to the stream of your over-thinking mind that is for the most part in control of you. With a practice of your own choosing that is some form of meditation/contemplation, prayer or body awareness practice you clear the stream.

Learn to be quiet enough to hear the genuie within yourself so that you can hear it in others – Marian Writhe Edelman Click To Tweet

Now you throw that berry int the stream so that you might catch “a little silver trout.” This is an inspirational thought that is thought through you. This is an oceanic kind of thought. You only need one. It will allow you to become a free flow of universal energy.

NOTE It is my intention to share more on the kind of thoughts you might bring to the stream so that you get to companion your greatness.

The Silver Trout – Allowing

With intention and attention you now practice patience and allowing. You do not push the river/stream. You trust that the universe will deliver. You do not judge and you do not dictate.

The ability to practice non-judgement and allowing is reflected in the seed thought (the berry) that you throw into the stream (your personal mind). The seed thought is not so much about what you want and all the stuff you think you need.

Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself – Rumi

The seed thought is more about how you might become a willing channel in inviting your personal will to be in alignment with the Will to Love. This is the kind of thought that will allow you to be thought through.

Out of this willingness you will catch your personal silver trout. It will change into something unexpected. It will change you.

The Song of Wandering Aengus – Recording

Listen to a recording of The Song of Wandering Aengus poem by William Butler Yeats recorded by the writer. This is a track on the CD entitled The Yeats Experience – Listening form the Deep Heart’s Core.

You can listen to extracts from all tracks on this CD The Yeats Experience on HearNow

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