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Humanities Libertexts

13.5: The Wild Swans at Coole

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    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?


    Contributors and Attributions

    1. Coole Park was the name of the estate which belonged to Yeats’s dear friend, Lady Augusta Gregory, co-author of at least one of his plays and partner with him in the management of the Abbey Theatre. For years—the “nineteenth autumn” in this poem—Yeats was a house guest at Coole Park. The estate included a small lake, where lived the “nine-and-fifty swans” he describes here. ↵
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