Setting in The Wild Swans at Coole

Setting Examples in The Wild Swans at Coole:

The Wild Swans at Coole 2

"Upon the brimming water among the stones..."   (The Wild Swans at Coole)

In contrast to the stillness of the previous line, here the water is described as “brimming,” a word which connotes movement and life. When read against the previous line, this may suggest that nothing on earth may ever truly capture the eternal timelessness that the poet seeks. While the setting until this point has been undeniably idyllic, it is only now that the speaker introduces the element of movement. In this way, the brimming water may serve as a larger symbol for the inevitable movement of life.

" twilight..."   (The Wild Swans at Coole)

The description of the setting as “autumn” and “twilight” uses the changing of the seasons to foreshadow the central theme of aging, change, and mortality. Autumn is often employed metaphorically to connote sentiments of decay or decline, as the life of summer gives way to the death of winter. Written at age fifty-one, after years of turmoil in both in Yeats’s personal life and in the wider political life of Ireland, this poem reflects the potential despair one may feel when contemplating the inevitable passage of time.