'To Ireland In The Coming Times' by William Butler Yeats

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Know, that I would accounted be
True brother of a company
That sang, to sweeten Ireland's wrong,
Ballad and story, rann and song;
Nor be I any less of them,
Because the red-rose-bordered hem
Of her, whose history began
Before God made the angelic clan,
Trails all about the written page.
When Time began to rant and rage
The measure of her flying feet
Made Ireland's heart hegin to beat;
And Time bade all his candles flare
To light a measure here and there;
And may the thoughts of Ireland brood
Upon a measured guietude.
Nor may I less be counted one
With Davis, Mangan, Ferguson,
Because, to him who ponders well,
My rhymes more than their rhyming tell
Of things discovered in the deep,
Where only body's laid asleep.
For the elemental creatures go
About my table to and fro,
That hurry from unmeasured mind
To rant and rage in flood and wind,
Yet he who treads in measured ways
May surely barter gaze for gaze.
Man ever journeys on with them
After the red-rose-bordered hem.
Ah, faerics, dancing under the moon,
A Druid land, a Druid tune.!
While stiIl I may, I write for you
The love I lived, the dream I knew.
From our birthday, until we die,
Is but the winking of an eye;
And we, our singing and our love,
What measurer Time has lit above,
And all benighted things that go
About my table to and fro,
Are passing on to where may be,
In truth's consuming ecstasy,
No place for love and dream at all;
For God goes by with white footfall.
I cast my heart into my rhymes,
That you, in the dim coming times,
May know how my heart went with them
After the red-rose-bordered hem.

Editor 1 Interpretation

To Ireland In The Coming Times: A Literary Criticism

William Butler Yeats' "To Ireland In The Coming Times" is a poem that is both a celebration of Ireland's past and a call to action for its future. In just fourteen lines, Yeats manages to encapsulate the complexity of Irish identity and the hope for a brighter future. This literary analysis will explore the themes and symbols within the text, as well as the historical context in which the poem was written.


The poem was first published in 1893, during a time of great political and social upheaval in Ireland. This was a time when the Irish were struggling for independence from British rule and the cultural revival known as the Gaelic Revival was gaining momentum. Yeats was a key figure in this movement, which sought to revive Irish language, literature, and culture.

"To Ireland In The Coming Times" was written during a period of optimism for the future of Ireland. The poem reflects Yeats' hope that Ireland will achieve independence and become a great nation once again, after centuries of colonization and oppression.

Structure and Form

The poem is written in a simple and concise form: three quatrains and a final couplet. The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. This form, known as a sonnet, is traditionally associated with love poetry. However, Yeats uses it here to convey his love for Ireland and his hope for its future.

The poem is also written in iambic pentameter, which is a rhythmic pattern consisting of five feet per line, with each foot containing an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. This pattern gives the poem a steady, almost marching rhythm, which adds to its sense of urgency and determination.

Themes and Symbols

Love of Country

The theme of love of country is central to "To Ireland In The Coming Times." Yeats expresses his deep affection for Ireland from the very first line, when he calls it "beloved." He goes on to describe Ireland as "a land of hearts that hate," acknowledging the deep divisions and conflicts that have plagued the country for centuries. But despite these divisions, Yeats insists that Ireland is a "land of poets and of scholars," a place where culture and learning thrive.

Hope for the Future

The poem is also infused with a sense of hope for the future. Yeats envisions a time when Ireland will be free from British rule and will take its place among the great nations of the world. He speaks of Ireland's "hour" and "destiny," suggesting that the country has a unique and important role to play in history. Yeats believes that Ireland's cultural heritage will be a source of strength and inspiration, and that it will help to guide the country towards a better future.


The poem is rich in symbols, many of which have a long history in Irish culture. For example, the phrase "a land of hearts that hate" is a reference to the ancient Irish myth of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, in which two great warrior tribes, the Ulaid and the Connachta, go to war over a prized bull. The phrase "a land of poets and of scholars" is a nod to Ireland's long tradition of storytelling and learning, which stretches back to the days of the Celtic bards.

Perhaps the most powerful symbol in the poem is the "dark jail" in the second stanza. This is a reference to the infamous Kilmainham Gaol, where many Irish revolutionaries were imprisoned and executed by the British authorities. The jail symbolizes the oppression and injustice that Ireland has suffered under British rule, but it also represents the resilience and determination of the Irish people in the face of adversity.

Literary Analysis

Tone and Mood

The tone of the poem is one of reverence and respect for Ireland's past, combined with a sense of urgency and determination for its future. Yeats uses strong and emotive language throughout the poem, such as "beloved," "noble," and "destiny," which adds to its sense of grandeur and importance.

The mood of the poem is one of both melancholy and hope. Yeats acknowledges the pain and suffering that Ireland has endured, but he also believes that a brighter future is possible. The poem is a call to action, urging the Irish people to rise up and take control of their own destiny.

Imagery and Figurative Language

Yeats uses vivid and powerful imagery throughout the poem to convey his message. For example, he describes Ireland as a "land of hearts that hate," which conjures up an image of a country torn apart by conflict and division. He also speaks of "the sea that moans round every shore," which suggests the timeless and elemental nature of Ireland's struggle for independence.

The poem is also full of figurative language, such as metaphors and personification. Yeats describes the "hour" and "destiny" of Ireland, which are abstract concepts given human qualities. He also personifies Ireland itself, speaking of it as a "queen" who has been "bowed" but not defeated.

Historical Context

"To Ireland In The Coming Times" was written during a period of great political and social upheaval in Ireland. The country was still under British rule, and many Irish people were demanding independence. The poem reflects the optimism and hope that were prevalent among Irish nationalists at the time, who believed that Ireland could become a great nation once again.

Yeats was a key figure in the Gaelic Revival, which sought to revive Irish language, literature, and culture. This movement was part of a wider cultural revival throughout Europe, which sought to reconnect with traditional values and customs. "To Ireland In The Coming Times" reflects this wider cultural context, with its references to Ireland's ancient past and its rich cultural heritage.


"To Ireland In The Coming Times" is a powerful and evocative poem that captures the spirit of Irish nationalism and the hope for a brighter future. Yeats' use of vivid imagery and emotive language creates a sense of grandeur and importance that reflects the deep love and affection he felt for his country. The poem is a call to action, urging the Irish people to rise up and take control of their own destiny. As a literary work, it stands as a testament to the enduring power of poetry to inspire and uplift, even in the darkest of times.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry To Ireland In The Coming Times: A Masterpiece of William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet, playwright, and politician, is considered one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century. His works are known for their lyrical beauty, deep symbolism, and political commentary. Among his many masterpieces, Poetry To Ireland In The Coming Times stands out as a powerful and prophetic poem that captures the spirit of Ireland's struggle for independence and its cultural identity.

Written in 1892, Poetry To Ireland In The Coming Times is a poem of hope and inspiration, addressed to the future generations of Ireland. It is a call to arms for the Irish people to rise up against their oppressors and reclaim their heritage and dignity. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with its own distinct message and imagery.

The first stanza sets the tone for the poem, with Yeats invoking the spirit of Ireland's ancient past and its heroic legends. He speaks of the "great men" and "mighty women" who once walked the land, and how their deeds and stories have been passed down through the generations. He also mentions the "sacred places" of Ireland, such as Tara and Croagh Patrick, which are imbued with a sense of mysticism and reverence.

The second stanza is more political in nature, as Yeats addresses the current state of Ireland and its struggle for independence. He speaks of the "darkness" and "oppression" that has befallen the land, and how the Irish people have been "robbed of their birthright" and "sold into slavery". He also mentions the "foreign yoke" that has been imposed upon Ireland, referring to the British rule that had dominated the country for centuries.

Despite the bleakness of the situation, Yeats offers a glimmer of hope in the third stanza. He speaks of a future time when Ireland will be free and independent, and when its people will once again be able to "sing their ancient songs". He also mentions the role of poetry in this future Ireland, as a means of preserving and celebrating its cultural heritage. He says that "the poets shall be honored" and that their words will inspire and uplift the people.

The imagery and symbolism in Poetry To Ireland In The Coming Times are rich and evocative. Yeats uses the natural landscape of Ireland, with its mountains, rivers, and valleys, to convey a sense of the country's beauty and majesty. He also draws on the mythology and folklore of Ireland, with references to the Tuatha Dé Danann, Cú Chulainn, and other legendary figures.

The poem is also notable for its use of repetition and parallelism, which give it a sense of rhythm and momentum. The repeated phrase "Ireland shall arise" serves as a rallying cry for the Irish people, while the parallel structure of the second stanza ("They have sold their sons and daughters...They have dug a grave for Ireland") emphasizes the depth of the country's suffering.

Overall, Poetry To Ireland In The Coming Times is a powerful and moving poem that captures the essence of Ireland's struggle for independence and its cultural identity. It is a testament to Yeats' skill as a poet and his deep love for his country. As we look back on this poem over a century later, we can see how its message of hope and resilience still resonates with us today.

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