William Butler Yeats



 Analysis of Stanza 4







            Hearts with one purpose alone

            Through summer and winter seem

            Enchanted to a stone

            To trouble the living stream.

            The horse that comes from the road,

            The rider, the birds that range

            From cloud to tumbling cloud,

            Minute by minute they change;

            A shadow of cloud on the stream

            Changes minute by minute,          50

            A horse-hoof slides on the brim,

            And a horse plashes within it;

            The long-legged moor-hens dive,

            And hens to moor-cocks call;

            Minute by minute they live:

            The stone's in the midst of all.







        The use of "stone" in lines 43 and 56 is symbolic to the poem.  A stone represents an inanimate object that stays the same.  To go along with the theme of change, Yeats includes the idea that clouds change minute by minute.  The state of constancy is the important aspect of this word.  Everything that has happened previously in the poem cannot be changed.  The stone will forever be a stone, as will the deaths of those mentioned earlier.  The stone, whose purpose is "to trouble the living stream," hinders the flowing of the water.  


        The entire stanza has the motif of nature.  None of the previous stanzas mention nature.  Instead, Yeats discussed people and their actions.  He shifts the focus from the individual to nature.  Nature proves to be important because the constant motion of the stream and the clouds symbolizes that change is inevitable.






A view of The Boyne River



Back to index stanza 1  stanzas 2 and 3 stanza 4 stanza 5 and 6
Overall Significance Historical Background Scansion View Poem in Entirety  



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