Study Guide

The Lake Isle of Innisfree Man and the Natural World

By William Butler Yeats

Man and the Natural World

Conflict between man and the natural world is a common theme in literature—but not here! The speaker of "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" takes a totally harmonious, tree-hugging, green-loving approach to nature. He seems to think it's the cure for all that ails him. This poem has a lot to do with the speaker wanting to feel at home, or close to his roots. It's possible that he thinks he can get closer to his roots, or his true self, by abandoning the messy, hectic life of the city and embracing a life based on the simple and predictable patterns of nature.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. What is it about nature (as opposed to the city) that the speaker finds so therapeutic? 
  2. What are some of the obstacles the speaker might encounter if he embraces the rural lifestyle? 
  3. Do you think the speaker is drawn to Innisfree for its natural, serene setting, or for the memories he has of it? 

Chew on This

The speaker neglects to consider the difficulties that going back to nature will entail. It's not all bees and flowers. It's tough out there.

The speaker doesn't necessarily love the country; he just wants to run away from his life in the city. He's welcoming any alternative at this point.