The Wild Swans at Coole

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The Wild Swans at Coole by W B Yeats is about Yeats looking back at his life and the opportunities that passed.

Ireland’s 100 favourite poems
W B Yeats

He looks out at the water and remembers back to when he was a younger man with innocence and optimism.

But then life dealt out heartaches and disappointments to give him a more philosophical outlook.

The Wild Swans at Coole by W B Yeats. Image copyright Ireland Calling

The Wild Swans at Coole

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

The Wild Swans at Coole by W B Yeats. Image copyright Ireland Calling

W B Yeats

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Ireland's 100 favourite poems

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