The Wild Swans at Coole

Poetic Beats

Welcome to this week’s Poetic Beats with Howard Bond and Davy D, recorded on the 16th of October 2017 on Red Kite Radio.

This week we read and analyse the poem, The Wild Swans at Coole, written by one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century, William Butler Yeats.

It is believed by many that Yeats used this poem to explore the frailty of human life. When the poem was published in 1917 the world was in the grip of The Great War and, having turned fifty, Yeats believed he was entering the twilight of his life.

Poetic Beats is becoming so popular we had a visit, in this programme, from one of the local pilots who brought his plane close to the studio to get a better listen.

For those of you who can’t access the recording, the text version of the poem is added after the sound bar.

To hear the recording, please press the arrow on the left of the sound bar below.


The Wild Swans at Coole

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

William Butler Yeats.


Thank you Davy for giving us this poem. I do so love Yeats and having heard your wonderful rendition it made the poem stand out even more this morning.

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Beautiful reading as always…and Yeats ..i love his works..

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A belter Davy ! W.B, admirer of Blake, a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and all manner of spiritual paths, yet spooky Yates, despite being ridiculed by one WH Auden, was as you said one of the greatest of his time. May be because of his interests ?
Needless to say you won’t be surprised I feel a great affinity, ever since I read ‘ An Irish airman foresees his death’.

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    Thank you Nigel. I am glad you enjoyed it. WB was not only a great poet but was an interesting man. I think the fact he was always a thorn in the British Governments side is maybe why I am drawn to him. His time in Golden Dawn is also very interesting.

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Reblogged this on Go Dog Go Café and commented:
Howard Bond and Davy D

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Great post, Davy. Lovely choice of poem and was impressed by your commentary on both Yeats and his verses.

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Thank you for sharing! Light and Love Shona

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One of my new favorite poets (Davy) reading and commenting on one of my old favorite poets (Yeats)! 🙂 Thank you! This was lovely to listen to!
Life for all creatures, including human beings, is so fragile and too short.
Yeats words about the regal swans do paint beautiful word-pictures in my mind.
Carolyn 🙂

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Beautiful poem. Interesting analogy on old age. Again great job of reading!

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Thank you for the link and your support. Have a good weekend.


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