Study Guide

The Lake Isle of Innisfree Setting

By William Butler Yeats


Welcome to the Jungle. The concrete jungle, that is. There's no ifs ands or buts about it: this poem takes place on the city streets. Though we spend most of the poem dreaming about the ideal country setting, we find out in the very last stanza that the speaker is standing on a paved street. Wait. What?

In a poem about a lake isle, the dude is standing on some pavement? This is a pretty slick trick on Yeats's part, and we definitely think he delays the delivery of this information for a reason. Our minds are teeming with the sounds of bees buzzing and water lapping, and suddenly, we're yanked back to a noisy city street. We can't help but feeling a little annoyed. What happened to the peaceful bliss?

Well, that's probably exactly how our speaker feels, too. He's constantly dreaming of Innisfree, but he's constantly reminded that he's not there: he's in the city. And there are no bees, no linnets to be found.