The Lake Isle of Innisfree – Summary and Questions With Their Answers

Introduction: Yeats was born in Ireland but spent the first sixteen years of his life in England, returning for a holiday only to his native Sligo. He was in London much later in his life when he heard tinkling water and was transported back to the small island of Innisfree on Lough Gill, a lake in Sligo, where he had dreamed of living as a young man. This experience influenced the ‘Innisfree Lake Isle,’ which is rich in its use of images, rhythm and rhythm to evoke sound and location.

About the poet

William Butler yeats was an Irish poet and of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of the Irish literary establishment he helped to found the Abbey theatre. Born in Dublin Ireland on June 13th 1865 W. B Yeats was the son of a well known Irish painter. He spent his childhood in County Sligo.

He was a well-known Irish poet and drdramatist. He was deeply devoted to the cause of Irish independence and played a major role in reviving the general public interest in Ireland’s cultural heritage. He also worked for the establishment of the National Theatre of Ireland. His works combines brutal naturalism psychological analysis poetry and biting satire with an abiding respect for the courage and persistence of the Irish people. he was considered to be a leading figure of Irish ReRenaissanceHis autobiography ‘Shame the Devil’ was published in 1934. Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923,making him the first person of Independent Ireland to be honoured with the prize. Some of his major works are the winding stair and the Resurrection.

Word meanings.

1.Innisfree – the name of an island.



4.wattles—twisted sticks—open space

6.Dropping—falling in drops.

7. Veils—curtain—an insect

9.glimmer—twinkling /shining

10.linnet—a small singing bird

11.lapping—sound of the water striking gently against shore.


13.arise—get up

14.Cabin—small hut
15.bean—a small vegetable


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Context of the poem Lake Isle of Innisfree

The lake Isle of Innisfree refers to an actual place in County Sligo, Ireland that WB Yeats knew well from his childhood. Thr Isle of Innisfree is one of 20 small Islands located within Lough Gill a freshwater lake.

Although Yeats lived much of his life in the cities of Dublin and London he spent his summers as a child in County Sligo where is mother was from. The lake Isle of Innisfree is written from the the perspective of someone in an urban environment. It demonstrates the tension of modern living in which someone might yearn for a simpler, more peaceful way of life amidst the bustle of the ‘roadway’or ‘pavements grey’. The poem has a beautiful rhythmic almost hypnotic spell.

Feeling homesick while living in London he was reminded of the lake by a fountain in a shop window. This poem thus was the result.

Summary of The Lake Isle of Innisfree

Yeats makes a decision at the beginning of this poem. He says ‘I will arise and go now’ He has decided to take a break from the modern society and the hectic life schedule. He says that he will go to Innisfree (an island in Ireland) and build a small simple hut. He will have nine bean- rows and Honey Bee Hive.The poet wants to live alone in peace with nature. The poem reflects on the tranquility of life… in fact living in a cottage is quite different from the fast and hectic life. We can enjoy nature, when there is peace of mind but real peace is impossible in a city we find it in a solitary place only. Also he will get honey from the hive. Yeats says that the open space where he will build his cabin will be filled up with the buzzing sound of the bees.

In the second stanza we see Yeats’s strong belief that once settled in Innisfree he shall acquire a great measure of peace which comes down from the Heaven just like the dew that falls on the ground in the evening and stays there throughout the night blending with the singing of the cricket till late momorningThen they disappear altogether with the lifting of the morning mist just like a veil that is lifted from the face of the bride. The glimmering darkness of midnight and the purple colour of the late afternoon set the scene for the evening with linnets flying to and fro, and in an around the cabin.

Finally in the third stanza, Yeats feels the urgent means to go immediately to the island of Innisfree for eternally.. day and night, he will hear the lake water lapping softly on the shores of the island. If he places himself anywhere in the island, on the roadside or the distant pavement :he will continue to hear it in the deep core of his heart. .


Important Questions and Their Answers

I. 1. What kind of place is Innisfree?

Ans. Innisfree is an island near Silgo in Ireland. It is full of natural beauty with peaceful atmosphere. The tranquility of this place attracts the poet a lot.

2. What are the three things the poet wants to do when he goes back there ( stanza I ).

Ans. The poet wants to do these following things when he goes back to Innisfree-

a. To build a cabin with clay and wattles.

b. To grow nine rows of bean and to make a bee hive for the bees.

c. He wants to live alone in the bee loud glade.

ii. what he hears and sees there and it’s effect on him ( stanza II ).

Ans. He hears peace dropping slowly from the veils of the morning and the song of the cricket. He sees some beautiful scenes like the glimmer of the midnight. The purple rays of the sun during the noon and the colourful evenings which are full of linnet’s wings.

These beautiful scenes and the calm environment of Innisfree make the poet spellbound and gives him mental peace.

iii. what he hears in his “ heart’s core “ even when he is far away from Innisfree ( stanza III )

Ans. The poet hears the sound of the water lapping the shore of the island even though he is far away from the place.

3. By now you may have concluded that Innisfree is a simple, natural place, full of beauty and peace.

How does the poet contrast it with where he now stands? ( Read stanza III )

Ans. The poet had used some terms in the poem like ‘ stand on the roadway, or on the pavement grey’ , this line symbolises death and decay of the city life while Innisfree is visualised as a symbol of peace aas relaxation. In this way, he has contrasted both the places. He is not at all happy with the unnatural and busy city life, instead, he has expressed his desire to settle down at Innisfree.

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4. Do you think Innisfree is only a place or a state of mind? Does the poet actually miss the place of his boyhood days?

Ans. Innisfree is a real place with all its natural beauty.

He really misses that place as he stayed there for many years during his childhood days.

Afterwards, when he started staying in London, he wanted to get back his old sweet days spent in Innisfree and he also expresses a strong desire to go to Innisfree and stay there.

II. 1. Look at the words the poet uses to describe what he sees and hears at Innisfree.
i. Bee- loud glade

ii. Evening full of linnet’s wings.

iii. Lake water lapping with low sounds.

What pictures do these words create in your mind?

Ans. i . Bee-loud glade- In our mind, these words create the image of bees producing humming sound outside the small cabin of the poet at Innisfree.

ii. Evening full of linnet’s wings- These words create the image of linnets, small, brown grey coloured birds, flying in the sky over Innisfree during the evening time, making the place look more beautiful.

iii. Lake water lapping with low sounds- These words create the image of lake water hitting the shore and producing a pleasant sound. It also creates a captivating view of the place in our minds.

III. Look at these words:

……. Peace comes dropping slow

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings.

What do these words mean to you? What do you think “ comes dropping slow… from the veils of the morning”? What does “ to where the cricket sings” mean ?

Ans. These words mean that the place, Innisfree, is full of natural beauty and the calm and peaceful environment of the place makes the poet happy and relaxed.

I think, peace comes dropping from the veils of the morning and slowly awakes the poet.

“ To where the cricket sings” mean that the song of the cricket adds more beauty and serenity to the place.

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