'He Tells Of A Valley Full Of Lovers' by William Butler Yeats

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I dreamed that I stood in a valley, and amid sighs,
For happy lovers passed two by two where I stood;
And I dreamed my lost love came stealthily out of the wood
With her cloud-pale eyelids falling on dream-dimmed eyes:
I cried in my dream, O women, bid the young men lay
Their heads on your knees, and drown their eyes with your fair,
Or remembering hers they will find no other face fair
Till all the valleys of the world have been withered away.

Editor 1 Interpretation

He Tells of a Valley Full of Lovers - A Literary Criticism and Interpretation


William Butler Yeats’ “He Tells of a Valley Full of Lovers” is a lyrical and romantic poem that explores the themes of love, desire, and beauty. The poem is part of the collection “The Wind Among the Reeds,” which was published in 1899. Yeats was known for his involvement in the Irish Literary Revival, and his works often reflect Irish folklore and mythology. However, “He Tells of a Valley Full of Lovers” is a departure from this tradition, and instead, focuses on the universal experience of love.

Yeats’ poem tells the story of a man who comes across a valley filled with lovers. The man is struck by the beauty and passion of the scene and is moved to tears. The poem is rich in symbolism, and Yeats uses vivid imagery to evoke a sense of longing and desire in the reader. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will analyze the poem’s themes, structure, and language, and explore how Yeats uses these elements to convey his message.


Love is the central theme of “He Tells of a Valley Full of Lovers.” Yeats portrays love as a force that is both beautiful and powerful. The lovers in the valley are described as being “pale as the death, / All the passion of hearts / That have loved in old song.” This description emphasizes the intensity of their love and suggests that it is akin to that found in classic love stories and songs.

The poem also explores the theme of desire. The man who discovers the valley is overcome with desire as he watches the lovers. He is “gripped and caught / By what that valley had / Of his heart’s desire.” This language conveys the idea that desire is a force that can take hold of us and control our actions.

Finally, the poem touches on the theme of beauty. The valley is described as “a place where passion is beauty, / And beauty passion.” This line suggests that passion and beauty are interconnected and that we find beauty in the things that we are passionate about. The image of the valley filled with lovers is beautiful in itself, but it is their passion that makes it truly breathtaking.


“He Tells of a Valley Full of Lovers” is written in free verse, which means that it has no set rhyme scheme or meter. This allows Yeats to experiment with the poem’s structure and to create a sense of fluidity and movement. The lack of a set structure also reflects the theme of desire, which is a force that is often unpredictable and uncontrollable.

The poem is divided into four stanzas, each with a varying number of lines. The first stanza sets the scene and introduces the man who discovers the valley. The second and third stanzas describe the lovers in the valley and the man’s reaction to them. The final stanza concludes the poem by emphasizing the power of love and desire.

Yeats uses enjambment throughout the poem, which means that lines are often run-on into the next line. This technique creates a sense of momentum and movement, as if the poem is building towards something. The use of enjambment also reflects the theme of desire, as the poem itself feels almost out of control, as if it is being driven by an unseen force.


Yeats’ use of language in “He Tells of a Valley Full of Lovers” is both rich and evocative. He uses vivid imagery to bring the scene of the valley to life and to evoke a sense of longing in the reader. For example, he describes the lovers as being “white as the mist / That all the sweet summer night / Clings to the rolling hills.” This description is both beautiful and haunting, and it emphasizes the purity and intensity of the lovers’ passion.

Yeats also uses metaphor to convey his message. For example, he describes the valley as being “a place where passion is beauty, / And beauty passion.” This metaphor suggests that passion and beauty are interlinked, and that we find beauty in the things that we are passionate about. It also emphasizes the idea that love is a force that transcends mere physical beauty.

Finally, Yeats’ use of repetition in the poem is particularly effective. He repeats the phrase “heart’s desire” several times, which creates a sense of urgency and longing. The repetition also emphasizes the power of desire and suggests that it is a force that is difficult to resist.


In conclusion, “He Tells of a Valley Full of Lovers” is a powerful and evocative poem that explores the themes of love, desire, and beauty. Yeats’ use of vivid imagery, metaphor, and repetition creates a sense of longing and desire in the reader, and his free verse structure reflects the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of desire. The poem is a departure from Yeats’ usual focus on Irish folklore and mythology, but it is no less powerful for it. “He Tells of a Valley Full of Lovers” is a timeless and universal exploration of one of the most fundamental human experiences.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

He Tells Of A Valley Full Of Lovers: A Masterpiece by William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century. His works are known for their lyrical beauty, deep symbolism, and profound philosophical insights. Among his many masterpieces, "He Tells Of A Valley Full Of Lovers" stands out as a shining example of his poetic genius. In this poem, Yeats paints a vivid picture of a mystical valley where lovers gather to celebrate their passion and devotion. Through his words, he captures the essence of love, desire, and the human spirit.

The poem begins with the speaker describing a valley that he has seen in his dreams. He tells us that this valley is full of lovers who come from all corners of the world to be together. The valley is surrounded by mountains, and the air is filled with the sweet scent of flowers. The lovers dance and sing, and their joy is infectious. The speaker is mesmerized by the beauty of this scene, and he longs to be a part of it.

As the poem progresses, the speaker becomes more and more enamored with the valley and its inhabitants. He describes the lovers as being "like a great sigh" that fills the air. Their passion is so intense that it seems to transcend time and space. The speaker is in awe of their devotion, and he wishes that he could join them in their celebration of love.

One of the most striking aspects of this poem is the way that Yeats uses language to convey the intensity of the lovers' emotions. He describes their love as being "like a flame that burns in a secret place." This metaphor suggests that their passion is both powerful and hidden, something that is felt deeply but not easily expressed. Yeats also uses imagery to create a sense of magic and mystery. He describes the valley as being "enchanted," and the lovers as being "like stars that shine in the night." These images suggest that the valley is a place of wonder and enchantment, where anything is possible.

Another important theme in this poem is the idea of unity. The lovers in the valley come from all over the world, but they are united by their love. They dance and sing together, and their joy is contagious. The speaker longs to be a part of this community, to feel the sense of belonging that comes from being surrounded by people who share his passion. This theme of unity is particularly relevant in today's world, where so many people feel isolated and disconnected from others.

Finally, it is worth noting the way that Yeats uses the speaker's voice to convey his own emotions. The speaker is clearly moved by what he sees in the valley, and his words are filled with wonder and awe. He is not just describing the scene; he is experiencing it. This sense of immediacy and intimacy is what makes Yeats' poetry so powerful. He is able to connect with his readers on a deep emotional level, and to convey complex ideas and emotions in a way that is both accessible and profound.

In conclusion, "He Tells Of A Valley Full Of Lovers" is a masterpiece of modern poetry. Through his use of language, imagery, and voice, Yeats creates a vivid and unforgettable portrait of a mystical valley where love reigns supreme. The poem is a celebration of passion, unity, and the human spirit, and it speaks to us across the ages with a message of hope and inspiration. If you have not yet read this poem, I urge you to do so. It is a true gem of world literature, and a testament to the enduring power of the written word.

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