The Lake Isle of Innisfree: AHSEC Class 12 Alternative English

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
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Get summaries, questions, answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF and guide of Class 12 (second year) Alternative English textbook, chapter/poem 5, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, which is part of the syllabus of students studying under AHSEC/ASSEB (Assam Board). These solutions, however, should only be treated as references and can be modified/changed. 

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“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by William Butler Yeats is widely considered one of his most popular and enduring works. The poem addresses the universal human desire for escape and the search for inner peace. The speaker longs for a simpler, more peaceful life, free from the distractions and anxieties of modern existence.

Characterised by simple and evocative language, natural imagery, and themes of escapism and the quest for inner peace, the poem begins with the speaker expressing a strong desire to leave the noise and bustle of the city to find solace on Innisfree, a small uninhabited island off the western coast of Ireland. Despite its straightforward diction, the poem is rich in sensory details, vividly depicting the island’s natural beauty. The speaker’s needs are minimal: a simple life amid nature, where he can “live alone in the bee-loud glade” with just “nine bean-rows” to “have some peace.”

The repeated phrase “I will arise and go now” at the beginning of each stanza creates a sense of momentum and urgency, highlighting the speaker’s yearning for peace. Nostalgia is also a prominent theme in the poem.

The poem employs various poetic devices, such as repetition at the beginning of each stanza, imagery like “peace comes dropping slow,” “midnight’s all a glimmer,” and “bee-loud glade,” and personification, with the cricket said to “sing all night long.” Symbolism is evident where the island represents the speaker’s desire for escape and inner peace, while alliteration in phrases like “peace comes dropping slow,” “cicadas sing,” and “bee-loud glade” creates a lyrical effect.

The poem also uses enjambment, where a sentence or phrase continues from one line to the next, creating a sense of flow and movement. For instance, “And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,/Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings” is a single sentence that spans two lines.

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Line-by-line explanation

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, / And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:

The speaker declares his immediate intention to leave his current location and journey to Innisfree, an island he associates with peace and simplicity. He envisions constructing a modest cabin using traditional, natural materials such as clay and wattles (woven branches or twigs), reflecting his desire for a self-sufficient, rustic lifestyle away from the complexities of modern life.

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee; / And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

At Innisfree, he plans to cultivate a small garden with nine rows of beans, symbolizing a simple and sustainable way of life. Additionally, he intends to keep a beehive, which signifies harmony with nature and self-reliance. The speaker looks forward to living alone in a glade (a clearing in a forest) where the buzzing of bees is a predominant sound, emphasizing the serene and natural environment he seeks.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, / Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

The speaker believes that at Innisfree, he will experience a profound sense of peace. This peace is described as arriving slowly and gently, much like the morning dew that falls gradually. It permeates the surroundings from dawn, represented by the “veils of the morning,” to the places where crickets sing, indicating the tranquility that spans the entire day.

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, / And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

In Innisfree, the speaker imagines that even midnight has a gentle glow, perhaps illuminated by moonlight or stars, creating a magical and serene nighttime atmosphere. At noon, the sunlight casts a purple hue, suggesting a mystical and beautiful quality to the daylight. The evenings are filled with the movement and sounds of linnets, small songbirds, enhancing the idyllic and peaceful scene.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day / I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

The speaker feels a continuous and urgent call to depart for Innisfree, driven by a persistent memory. Day and night, he hears the gentle and soothing sounds of the lake’s waters softly lapping against the shore, a sound that represents the tranquility he craves.

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, / I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Even when the speaker is in the city, standing on busy roads or the grey, hard pavements, the memory of the lake’s sounds stays with him. It resonates deeply within him, at the very core of his being, intensifying his longing for the peace and simplicity of Innisfree.

Textbook solutions

Answer in one or two words

1. Where does the poet want to go?

Answer: Innisfree

2. What will he build there?

Answer: Small cabin

3. With what will he build it?

Answer: Clay and wattles

4. What will the poet plant there?

Answer: Bean-rows

5. How, according to the poet, will peace arrive in Innisfree?

Answer: Dropping slow

Answer in a few words

1. Where is Innisfree located?

Answer: In Lough Gill, County Sligo, Ireland

2. What is the significance of the ‘bee-loud glade’?

Answer: It represents a place of solitude and nature.

3. What does the speaker mean by ‘peace comes dropping slow’?

Answer: Peace arrives gradually and gently.

4. How does the poem create a sense of nostalgia using imagery?

Answer: By evoking vivid images of the natural beauty and tranquility of Innisfree.

Answer these questions briefly

1. What does the poet mean by ‘arise and go’?

Answer: The poet means to leave his current location and travel to Innisfree.

2. Where does the poet stand when he hears ‘the deep heart’s core’?

Answer: The poet stands on the roadway or on the pavements grey when he hears ‘the deep heart’s core’.

3. Which times of the day are referred to and why?

Answer: The times of the day referred to are midnight, noon, and evening to depict different serene moments in nature.

4. Name the different creatures mentioned in the poem.

Answer: The different creatures mentioned in the poem are the honey-bee, cricket, and linnet.

Answer in detail

1. What is the significance of the Lake Isle of Innisfree to the speaker?

Answer: The significance of the Lake Isle of Innisfree to the speaker is that it represents an idealised place of peace and natural beauty where he can escape from the noise and stress of urban life. The speaker envisions Innisfree as a tranquil haven where he can live simply, surrounded by nature, with “nine bean-rows” and “a hive for the honey-bee.” This idyllic setting is a stark contrast to the grey pavements of the city, and it symbolizes the speaker’s yearning for a more harmonious and serene existence. The Lake Isle of Innisfree serves as a metaphor for the speaker’s innermost desire for solitude, peace, and a deeper connection with nature.

2. What poetic devices does Yeats use in the poem? How do they contribute to the poem’s meaning and effect?

Answer: Yeats uses various poetic devices in the poem, including repetition, imagery, personification, symbolism, alliteration, and enjambment. Repetition is seen in the phrase “I will arise and go now,” which creates a sense of urgency and determination in the speaker’s desire to reach Innisfree. Imagery is used extensively to evoke the serene and picturesque landscape of the island, with phrases like “peace comes dropping slow,” “midnight’s all a glimmer,” and “bee-loud glade.” Personification is evident when the cricket is described as singing, giving a lively character to the natural setting. Symbolism is present in the depiction of Innisfree as a symbol of escape and inner peace. Alliteration, such as in “peace comes dropping slow,” and “bee-loud glade,” adds a musical quality to the poem, enhancing its lyrical effect. Enjambment, the continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, contributes to the poem’s flow and movement, as seen in “And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,/Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings.” These devices collectively enrich the poem’s meaning and effect, drawing readers into the speaker’s yearning for a simpler, more peaceful life.

3. What is the role of nostalgia in the poem? How is it expressed?

Answer: The role of nostalgia in the poem is central to the speaker’s emotional state and desire for escape. Nostalgia is expressed through the speaker’s longing to return to a simpler, more peaceful time and place, symbolised by the Lake Isle of Innisfree. This longing is evident in the repeated phrase “I will arise and go now,” which underscores the speaker’s deep-seated wish to leave behind the complexities and anxieties of modern life. The vivid imagery of the natural landscape, with references to the “bee-loud glade,” “peace dropping slow,” and “midnight’s all a glimmer,” evokes a sense of an idealised past that the speaker yearns to reclaim. The poem conveys a deep sense of yearning for a place and time where life was more connected to nature and tranquility, highlighting the speaker’s emotional connection to Innisfree as a symbol of lost innocence and serenity.

Extra questions and answers

1. “I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:”

(i) What does the speaker intend to do?

Answer: The speaker intends to arise and go to Innisfree.

(ii) What does the speaker plan to build in Innisfree?

Answer: The speaker plans to build a small cabin.

(iii) What materials will be used to build the cabin?

Answer: The cabin will be built of clay and wattles.

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12. What is the significance of ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ to the speaker, and how does it reflect his emotional and mental state?

Answer: The Lake Isle of Innisfree is significant to the speaker as it represents an ideal place of refuge and tranquility, away from the noise and chaos of city life. The speaker longs for this idyllic setting where he envisions living a simple, self-sufficient life in harmony with nature. The vivid imagery of the glimmering midnight, purple noon, and the bee-loud glade conveys the beauty and serenity he associates with Innisfree. This longing reveals a deep sense of nostalgia and a yearning for a return to a simpler, more harmonious existence, reflecting the speaker’s desire for inner peace and emotional solace. The repeated resolve to “arise and go” emphasizes his urgent need to escape and reconnect with nature, highlighting the profound impact this imagined retreat has on his emotional and mental well-being.

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