The Song of Wandering Aengus

The Song of Wandering Aengus

by William Butler Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Summary of The Song of Wandering Aengus

  • Popularity of “The Song of Wandering Aengus”: William Butler Yeats, a great romantic poet, wrote ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’. It is a narrative poem about unrequited love. It was first published in 1899 in Yeats’ collection of poems, The Wind Among the Reeds. It speaks about a man who goes out in search of peace. It also reflects his quest to find a girl he once encountered in his youth. The poet continues to talk about love and beauty.
  • “The Song of Wandering Aengus”, As a Representative of Wonder: The poem speaks about the speaker’s quest to find a beautiful girl he saw in the woods. The poem begins when the speaker goes to the Hazel Woods to find some peace as he is disturbed. While wandering in the woods, he decides to go fishing and peels a thin piece of hazel from a tree to make a wand. The soothing and enchanting nature around gives him a strange feeling and makes him perceive more than his imagination.
    Absorbed in the serenity of the soothing environment, he cuts the sting and throws into the water and hooks a fish. To his surprise, before he prepares his food, someone calls him by his name. The silver trout caught by the speaker turns into a glimmering girl. He is amazed by her physical appearance and tries to catch her, but she disappears in the air. The memory of that pretty girl leaves a permanent mark on his imagination. He tries to trace her everywhere, but all efforts go in vain. As he grows older, his search continues. He wishes to see her and spend the precious years of his life with her.
  • Major Themes in “The Song of Wandering Aengus”: Nature, love, and wonder are the major themes of this poem. Nature plays a central role in this poem. When the speaker is disturbed from the materialistic world, he turns toward nature to find peace. Nature offers him its wonders but also provides him with a chance to get a glimpse of a beautiful woman who magically appears. She never gets close to him, yet he feels a strong sense of belonging with that strange beauty. She also magically disappears, leaving a lasting impression on his life. At an old age, the speaker finds his unrequited and idealized love. He speaks about the nature of romantic love marked with the dimensions of private privacy.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “The Song of Wandering Aengus”

Literary devices are essential elements of a literary text. They bring richness to the text and also help the readers understand hidden meanings. William Butler Yeats has also made this poem superb by using figurative language. Here is the analysis of some literary devices used in this poem.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /ai/ in “And pluck till time and times are done”.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /w/ in “And when white moths were on the wing”.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /ng/ in “And walk among long dappled grass”.
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break. Instead, the verse continues in the next line. For example;

“It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “I went out to the hazel wood”, “And walk among long dappled grass” and “And kiss her lips and take her hands.”
  2. Symbolism: Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. Here, “glimmering girl” is the symbol of love and beauty.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “The Song of Wandering Aengus”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “hair/air”, “lands/hands” and “head/thread.”
  2. Iambic Tetrameter: It is a type of meter having four iambs per line. The poem follows iambic tetrameter. For example, “When I had laid it on the 
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABABCDCD rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues until the end.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem, with each comprising an equal number of verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used by a lover to describe his infinite love for his beloved.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done.”