Vocabulary in The Wild Swans at Coole

Vocabulary Examples in The Wild Swans at Coole:

The Wild Swans at Coole 6

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

Once again the water is described as still; although this time, the speaker is aware that this stillness is only momentary. In this context, this image is one of transient beauty, emphasized by the adverb “now” to draw attention to the ephemeral nature of the present moment. The repetition of still with the previous line suggests a double meaning that encompasses both stillness as a lack of motion and stillness as a continuation of the same. This is relevant to the central concern of the poem as the speaker views the swans as being from another world compared to himself since they are able to continue acting in youthful vigor while he is doomed to grow old and weary.

"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.

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

The verb “to tread” means “to walk.” Here, the speaker describes the lighter walk of his younger days, signaling how he was more carefree and less weighed down with the worries of time. Now, the speaker’s heart is “sore” as if he physically feels the ache of age and experience in a way not felt in his youth. Once again, this description further emphasizes his envy of the swans whose freedom and youthful joy are quite literally manifest in their ability to fly into the air.

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

The verb “mount” here may be construed in two ways: first, as a mode of flight, with the swans “mounting” the air as they ascend upwards. Secondly, mount also has sexual connotations, which perhaps further increases the speaker’s sense of envy. While this stanza describes the swans as capable of great passion and liveliness, the speaker is merely a lone spectator, one painfully aware that he has entered the dwindling stages of later life. In either reading, both uses of the verb point to the “wild” of the poem’s title, further demonstrating the unsurmountable division between human and animal, restrained and free.

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

In this context, “rushes” means marsh or waterside plants that generally have stiff, hollow stems and large flat leaves. One can assume the speaker is asking where these birds will build their home; a question which signals the transience of the birds’ presence on this particular lake.

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

The adjective “clamorous” is generally association with the noise of people shouting, crying, or loudly exclaiming. Notice that in this context, clamorous describes “wings,” something that does not have a voice. The speaker uses this characterization to show that every part of the bird is full of life while the speaker can only stand and watch them.