Tone in The Wild Swans at Coole

Tone Examples in The Wild Swans at Coole:

The Wild Swans at Coole 3

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

The reference to the swans’ hearts here directly contrasts to the previous reference to the speaker’s own heart as “sore.” He is burdened with age and an awareness of mortality; the swans appear youthful, active, and “unwearied.” These descriptions serve to draw a divisive line between the speaker and the swans, as the speaker envies their companionship and everlasting youth. The tone created here is one of painful longing, as the speaker acknowledges both the beauty and the seemingly eternal nature of the creatures.

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

The adjective “companionable” means “pleasant” or “relaxed.” In this context, the word is used to describe the cold streams in which the swans paddle, but also it draws similar meaning to “companion.” This echoes the manner in which each swan is described in pairs, “lover by lover,” while the speaker stands alone. This separates the speaker from the swans and emphasizes his loneliness as a passive spectator.

"All's changed since..."   (The Wild Swans at Coole)

The statement “[a]ll’s changed” suggests that there are two versions of the speaker: the young, innocent speaker before he saw the birds, and the weary, experienced speaker after he saw the birds. These two versions of the speaker cast the tone of the poem as a wistful longing for a time past.