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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?



    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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