The Wild Swans at Coole Summary & Analysis by William Butler Yeats

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"The Wild Swans at Coole" is a poem by W.B. Yeats, published in a collection of the same name in 1917. Written when Yeats was in his 50s, the poem sees a speaker visiting Coole Park in Ireland (a place which Yeats himself had visited). Here, he observes a large group of swans, comparing the present moment to his first visit to the park 19 years prior. Though the speaker admires the swans, the whole poem is suffused with an atmosphere of melancholy and regret—with the speaker projecting the kind of traits onto the swans that he feels he now lacks. There has been much speculation about the source of the speaker's feelings. The poem itself subtly alludes to lost love, and many critics also point to the timing of the poem's composition—shortly before the end of World War I, during the Irish struggle for independence from the British—as being highly significant.

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