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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"The Song of Wandering Aengus" by W.B. Yeats: An Analysis


The Song of Wandering Aengus reflects Yeats' study of mythology and mysticism. The first stanza is mostly denotative in meaning, and it tells of a man going fishing for trout. His diction is very descriptive, as shown in the phrase "moth-like stars," and he uses connotation in the line "Because a fire was in my head," which showed the speaker's determination to go fishing.

The second stanza is also mostly denotative, but Yeats makes use of his occult influence by writing about the "glimmering girl," who is a water nymph from the stream the speaker was fishing at. In mythology, there are many water nymphs that live in bodies of water, and Yeats is using his knowledge of such creatures by creating the "glimmering girl" in his poem. He shows that she has powers in the line where she "faded through the brightening air," because no mortal could make themselves appear to fade away.

The speaker is an old man, as he states in the third stanza: "Though I am old with wandering." That line also gives meaning to the title of the poem, The Song of Wandering Aengus, because that is his name, and he is a man that has "wandered," or traveled through many lands, like "hollow lands and hilly lands."

It describes how the man hopes to find the young beauty, and embrace
her youth and her love. The use of the word "wandering" also tells of how the man has aged while searching for the water nymph who called out to him one day while he was fishing. The last three lines show how the speaker hopes to spend the rest of his life in happiness with her, once he finds her. "The silver apples of the moon, the golden apples of the sun" are the days and nights passing by.


Analysis of "The Song of Wandering Aengus"


Analysis of "The Song of Wandering Aengus"


The Song of Wandering Aengus.
The first stanza of “The Song of Wandering Aengus” is a metaphor for Yeats as a young man looking for love or what he thinks is the institution of love. He knows what it takes to catch a “Fish” and does what he has been taught to catch one. The line “I went out to the hazel wood,” is symbolizing his going out into the world. He knows that he has to make the first steps away from home to find what he really wants.  When Yeats shares how he prepares his equipment to fish, “cut and peeled a hazel wand”, “hooked a berry to a thread” describes his growing up and becoming a man that wants a woman. To add to this idea, “When white moths were on the wing, and moth-like stars were flickering out,” is representing mayflies which hatch in the spring and at night. This is a strong symbol to the spring of youth that Yeats is giving allusions to.
In the second stanza of “The Song of Wandering Aengus”, Yeats describes how the trout he has just caught had turned into an “It had become a glimmering girl with apple blossom in her hair” which is representing a young girl. There is evidence to point out that the young girl may be from Yeat’s own youth since she is shown to know him by the line “Who called me by my name and ran”.  If you, as a reader takes this conjecture with addition of the line “I went to blow the fire a-flame”, there is strong evidence that this stanza is all essence describing how Yeats has attempted to reconnect with a past love from his youth only to realize that the memory of her is stronger than ever, but that memory is what he is in love with. The way she “fades through the brightening air” is how he realized that she has changed and is no longer the woman he loved so long ago.
In the third stanza of ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus”, time has passed and as an old man Yeats is still yearning for his lost “Glimmering Girl”. The lines “Though I am old with wanderings” and “I will find out where she has gone” support this by showing the reader how Yeats has looked for love elsewhere, but has not found fulfilling love because he is still searching for his “Glimmering Girl”. He has never stopped loving her or most likely ever will. He sees her as an unattainable goal or forbidden from ever touching again. This is shown in the lines “The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.”
Yeats uses his poem as a testament to a lifelong love. He may have never been able to keep his “trout” or “Glimmering girl” but the memory of her has stayed with him all his life which in itself is a trophy. We, as readers, can understand his feelings because if you look at a true loved one as a trophy, even if we lost the “fish”, the fact that at one point in our lives we were able to hold it in our hands is a joy that can stick with a person forever.