View Full Version : The Wild Swans At Coole

04-09-2006, 04:18 PM
The Wild Swans At Coole
W.B Yeats

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?

I was wondering what other people thought about the last two lines of this poem. I have to do an essay on this poem, and I am stuck on the last two lines. When the speaker says, 'To find they have flown away'. Why would the swans fly away and leave him, and what are they suppose to symbolise?

04-09-2006, 07:38 PM
Tell me what you have so far?

04-10-2006, 07:08 PM
So far my reading and analysis of the poem leads me to the conclusion that the swans represent some type of immortality, some form of ever lasting youth. They are "Unwearied still, lover by lover" and they are "Wild", which has connotations to freedom, being unrestrained, and strength.

Through out out the poem the speaker seems to have a melancholic tone when realising,

"All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore"

ninteen years have passed, yet the swans remain unchanged in their beauty and their mystery. I get the notion that the swans are an annual reminder to the speaker of the poem that he is ageing.

The last line throws me off because the swans have been there for 19 years and they haven't changed. Why would they fly away? What is it supposed to be symbolic of? If the swans never age, and look as beautiful as they did the first day he saw them (19 years ago), then what type of impact would that have on the speaker of the poem; will it make him happy that they have finally gone? Or willl make him sad that even they are emphemeral creatures and that everything will leave him one day.

Do you understand the confusion I feel? I hope you do, because I can't progress any further when I can't even understand the last two lines of the poem!

04-13-2006, 08:14 PM
I found a link for you to read, Medea:


04-14-2006, 05:28 PM
I found that link most helpful, so thank you very much for that!