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Analysis: Down by the Salley Gardens and a Drinking Song by William Butler Yeats

Autor:   •  June 28, 2017  •  Creative Writing  •  1,676 Words (7 Pages)  •  2,725 Views

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Analysis: Down by the Salley Gardens and A Drinking Song by William Butler Yeats


Analysis: Down by the Salley Gardens and A Drinking Song by William Butler Yeats

Junior N Ferreira

Abstract: The proposal is to make an analysis of Down by the Salley Gardens and A Drinking Song by William Butler Yeats. It will be an analysis line by line, trying to interpret, question and suggest some personal observations about the poems. In the poem The drinking song, the analysis will be made freely and with personal considerations, because it is a small piece, but full of meanings and different interpretations.

Introduction: The poems chosen for this assay have a very special characteristic, although very simple, they are able to impact the readers emotionally as instigate the reader to reflect on his own life. The first poem, "Down by the Salley Gardens" is a typical romantic ballad that makes use of easy rhymes and talks about heartbreak. It is an adaptation of another old Irish poem, made by Yeats that became widely known and sung by many singers around the world.

The second poem is even simpler, but carries a wealth of meaning in its impressive few lines, able to make us reflect and imagine ourselves in the shoes of the Speaker. The Drinking Song is a poem that has a catchy rhythm and simplicity as in the content as much in the form, and talks about two things very close to any reader: wine and love.


Down by the salley gardens

my love and I did meet;

She passed the salley gardens

with little snow-white feet.

She bid me take love easy,

as the leaves grow on the tree;

But I, being young and foolish,

with her would not agree.

In a field by the river

my love and I did stand,

And on my leaning shoulder

she laid her snow-white hand.

She bid me take life easy,

as the grass grows on the weirs;

But I was young and foolish,

and now am full of tears.


This poem is considered a ballad, a kind of musical poem with much moving and images. Its composition is made of simple rhymes, in this case has iambic trimeter parameter in most lines. The poem's images are simple and easily understood by most readers.

The poem starts showing the setting, where all actions happen in the first stanza: “the salley gardens”, “salley” is a word of Gaelic origin that means willow tree, it is a common tree in the Ireland, the birthplace of Yeats. The Willow is a very beautiful tree, it makes me imagine that a full willow forest is a mystical beauty scenario, a romantic place, that is a perfect setting for a love story. Then the Speaker tells us what about the story is, apparently a love story, because it is about a meeting between the Speaker and his love.

In the lines 3-4 the Speaker mention the shoes of his beloved, the "snow-white feet", it reinforces the idea of romance and can also mean the purity and delicacy of the woman who walks through the garden.

In the following lines (5-6) the Speaker speaks about the advice he receives from the pretty woman: “take love easy”, it sounds like “do not be impatient and wait”. It makes me think about the reason of the author’s impatience, could it be a sexual motivation? Sadly, for a while, the Speaker does not give much information about it.

The lines 7-8 give us more information about the Speaker and when this meeting happened. The line 7: “But I, being young and foolish” gives us an idea that this story is already happened in the past, it is as if the speaker were talking about a regret of his youth. He judges himself as a “foolish”, maybe because it was a love failure and he was impatient and certainly not listened the advice of his beloved.

In the second stanza we can see a change in the setting, now they are in a “field by the river” (line 9). The second stanza has the same structures of the first, it seems to be a big parallel structure, line by line between the both stanzas. The Speaker continues talking about his past, the term “snow- white” reappears, but now it is a hand, not feet. Maybe the Speaker is trying to emphasize some interesting detail about the woman and not simply the purity. The woman's attitude of touch the Speaker’s shoulder can be considered an attempt to calm him in some impatience attitude again.

In the lines 13-14, again the women give an advice to the Speaker: “take


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