The Lake Isle of Innisfree
This poem is W.B. Yeats’ manifesto for living like Thoreau; he states his intention in the first stanza to go live on Innisfree in a house that he builds among the bees. He then talks of the peace he will find there for his only companions will be the time of day. He resolves to go to Innisfree in the last stanza; he hears her call everywhere, even in the ring of the pavement.
The Second Coming
A dark, foreboding warning about our own destruction, Yeats begins this poem by likening the downward spiral of the Christian-dominated age we live in to the spiral of a falcon, saying that we are slowly destroying ourselves. The 2nd stanza is Yeats talking about the Second Coming and a vision that he has of a sphinx walking in the desert, surrounded by flying birds. The stanza then comes back to the present, and Yeats wonders what monster is now walking towards Bethlehem, aka the Christian world.
Sailing to Byzantium
The poem opens by describing a land that is youthful and full of intellect, a land that has no place for the elderly. The 2nd stanza describes an old man as a frail thing, one whose soul can only study its past; and so the old man has set sail for Byzantium. When he reaches this place the old man asks the wise men there to make him part of illusion of eternity. The final stanza is the old man describing how he has been melded into the beauty that is the welcoming gate of Byzantium.
Piano functions as a poignant memory for Lawrence; the first stanza is a woman singing to him, which causes him to remember a child sitting underneath a piano while his mother sings. This memory causes him to pine for his childhood, and he says that there is no need for the piano to be played with passion now; he is already weeping.
Snake is an exploration of the dichotomy between man’s natures. The poem is the story of a man who goes to get water from a trough, but a venomous snake has appeared there first and is drinking. The man is awed by the snake, but his “education” rages inside of him, telling him to kill it. The man considers the snake to have honored him with its presence. When the snake finishes drinking and begins to slither back up into his hole, the narrator picks up a stick and throws it at him. It misses, and the narrator immediately curses himself and his petty “education,” which has done him a disservice.
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