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William Butler Yeats
The speaker is a solitary individual narrating in the first person, revealing through his perception of swans on a lake his thoughts about the passage of time and the meaning of being human.
The tense switches throughout the poem, from present to past, then past and present, then back to present, and resolving finally in future tense. This shifting between past, present, and future reflects the speaker's musing on how the passage of time has affected him.
The speaker in the poem stands before a lake at twilight, counting the swans on the lake and contemplating his life. The wildness of the swans provides a contrast between the eternal power of nature and beauty and the fragility and limitations of being human. Coole is a place in Ireland frequented by Yeats. By choosing such a personal setting, Yeats indicates that he is speaking about himself in the poem.
This study guide for William Butler Yeats's The Wild Swans at Coole offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.