Themes in The Song of Wandering Aengus

Themes Examples in The Song of Wandering Aengus:

The Song of Wandering Aengus 3

"The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun...."   (The Song of Wandering Aengus)

The speaker states that the apples are silver and gold, which suggests that they represent something more than simple apples. Silver and gold are not only inorganic materials, but also they are colors full of symbolism. With this in mind, such apples are the result of artistic creation. In the poem, the apples represent the perfection and purity that only art can achieve. Only through art can Aengus’s quest can be accomplished. This poem itself serves as an act of taking and offering such apples. There is another way in which the apples represent the fruit of artistic creation: just as the golden apples of mythology offer immortality, so does art outlast its creator.

"pluck till time and times are done..."   (The Song of Wandering Aengus)

The contrasting images of moon and sun suggest their alternating appearances in the heavens, and thus the passage of time on earth. The role of time is a central theme in the poem. At the poem’s start, Aengus is the eternal youth for whom time does not flow. In his search for the beautiful “glimmering girl,” he becomes mortal and grows old. Yeats alters the original myth in this way. He shows us the aging Aengus who has wandered from the garden of myth, immortality and perfection for the real world, where one will never find the girl or, for that matter, anything ideal.

"silver..."   (The Song of Wandering Aengus)

In his book Ideas of Good and Evil, Yeats explains the use of gold and silver in these lines. He claims that “if you wish to be melancholy hold in your left hand an image of the Moon made out of silver, and if you wish to be happy hold in your right hand an image of the Sun made out of gold.” The two apples the speaker presents at the end of the poem represent the fluctuation between melancholy and joy. Aengus’s pursuit over time brings him both happiness and sadness. Unlike most in myths, there is no resolution offered in this poem to Aengus’s suffering or love.