Two Poem Comparisons: the Wild Swans at Coole vs. Sailing to Byzantium

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Expected change and unrequited love show up as major themes in William Yeats' poem The Wild Swans at Coole. Yeats sets up the poem in the first stanza to give a general feeling of sadness by describing "The trees are in their autumn beauty" and "The woodland paths are dry" (1-2). Autumn represents a time when nature starts dying and the dying leaves scatter where Yeats is walking. The reader also gets a general feel of an aged surrounding when Yeats mentions "a still sky" (4). The stillness of the sky contradicts how a lively sky would look with moving clouds and creatures among it. The subject of the poem finally gets mentioned, "nine-and-fifty swans", an odd number (6). Known for staying with their mate throughout their life, Swans stay faithful to their mate even after death, so Yeats finds one swan does not have a partner.

In the second stanza Yeats experiences a sudden surprise, "I saw, before I had well finished, All suddenly mount" (9-10). Something disturbs the coupled swans to have them fly away from Yeats. Later in the stanza, Yeats uses harsh words such as "scatter", "broken" and "clamorous" to describe the flight of the swans from the lake, which is the complete opposite of the beauty swans usually have (11-12). This brings a different theme to the poem.

Continuing to the third stanza, Yeats seems sad about the changes the lake has experienced throughout his years of going there, "…now my heart is sore. All's changes since I, hearing at twilight, the first time on this shore" (14-16). At the end of the stanza the swans move further away from Yeats representing his love passing him by, "The bell-beat of their wings above my head, Trod with a lighter tread" (17-18).

Yeats goes on again in the fourth stanza about the swans and their companionship, "Unwearied still, lover by lover" (19). Later he describes in jealousy, because he himself has become a lonely old man, that the swans still stay together no matter water nor air,...
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