The Wild Swans at Coole - Poem Annotation

The Wild Swans at Coole by W.B. Yeats: A Poem Annotation.

Contains additional context and a few links to other poems.

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  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 04-05-12 12:51
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The Wild Swans at Coole
This poem was published in 1919. `Coole' refers to the Coole Park, owned by his friend Lady
Gregory. This park was near his house. He wrote another poem set at Coole: "Coole Park,
1929." This poem depicts the park as a symbol for Irish literature.
Yeats wrote this poem when he was nearing old age. Some of the key themes include
nature/Ireland's beauty, old age, politics/art, love and loneliness.
The poem has five stanzas consisting of six lines, each written in a roughly iambic meter, the
first and third lines in tetrameter, the second, fourth and sixth lines in trimeter, and the fifth
in pentameter. The rhyme scheme is marked in blue. This type of structure is similar to
the structure of a ballad ­ a song of emotion, love or confession.
The current stanzas of these poems are different to how they were first published: originally,
the current last stanza was in the middle of the poem.
October/ Autumn: a time of
Twilight: both change. This is a
are times of period of change in
change/being Yeats' life: but is it
in-between beautiful?
states. A The trees are in their autumn beauty, Although he
`brimming' ­ B The woodland paths are dry, describes the trees
imagery: C Under the October twilight the water as beautiful, he
anticipation? B Mirrors a still sky; now says the path
D Upon the brimming water among the stones he is walking is
Fifty-nine: an E Are nine-and-fifty swans. barren/without
odd number. life. Possible link
to the way the
speaker feels.
Oxymoron: The imagery
Both great passes from
and broken. beautiful but
Loud; grand, changing, to dry
majestic. and barren, to the
LINK: Leda and peaceful image of
the Swan: A The nineteenth autumn has come upon me a `still sky' ­ could
sexual B Since I first made my count; the place he has
imagery of C I saw, before I had well finished, now reached be
the swans B All suddenly mount more peaceful
mounting D And scatter wheeling in great broken rings than the rest of
each other. D Upon their clamorous wings. the world?
The swans are
a symbol of Repetition of
beauty and plosive letters e.g.
wildness in `clamorous'
one. Unlike `paddle' `beat' ­
Yeats, they bringing an energy
always to the poem,

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The Wild Swans at Coole
achieve what Yeats' anger at the
they want. A I have looked upon those brilliant creatures, swans and his own
Metaphor: He B And now my heart is sore. life choices.
was younger, C All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
happier: less B The first time on this shore,
weighed down D The bell-beat of their wings above my head, Plosives and
by the world. D Trod with a lighter tread.…read more

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