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The Lake Isle of Innisfree

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

by William Butler Yeats

Stanza 1 Summary

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."

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