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The Song of Wandering Aengus

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I went out to the hazel wood,   Because a fire was in my head,   And cut and peeled a hazel wand,   And hooked a berry to a thread;   And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out,   I dropped the berry in a stream   And caught a little silver trout.  

When I had laid it on the floor   I went to blow the fire a-flame, But something rustled on the floor,   And someone called me by my name:   It had become a glimmering girl   With apple blossom in her hair   Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air.  

Though I am old with wandering   Through hollow lands and hilly lands,   I will find out where she has gone,   And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass,   And pluck till time and times are done,   The silver apples of the moon,   The golden apples of the sun.

This poem is in the public domain.

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the wandering aengus poem

The Song of Wandering Aengus Summary & Analysis by William Butler Yeats

  • Line-by-Line Explanation & Analysis
  • Poetic Devices
  • Vocabulary & References
  • Form, Meter, & Rhyme Scheme
  • Line-by-Line Explanations

the wandering aengus poem

First printed in 1897 and collected in The Wind Among the Reeds (1899), W. B. Yeats's "The Song of Wandering Aengus" is a dramatic monologue about burning and thwarted passion. Written in the voice of Aengus (a god of love and youth in Irish mythology), it tells the tale of a magical fish that turns into a beautiful girl and runs away. The infatuated Aengus wanders the earth in pursuit of this girl, growing old but never giving up his search. As a kind of miniature fable, the poem suggests how unrequited love—or any other unattainable dream—can both exhaust a person's energies and nourish a person's imagination.

  • Read the full text of “The Song of Wandering Aengus”

the wandering aengus poem

The Full Text of “The Song of Wandering Aengus”

1 I went out to the hazel wood,

2 Because a fire was in my head,

3 And cut and peeled a hazel wand,

4 And hooked a berry to a thread;

5 And when white moths were on the wing,

6 And moth-like stars were flickering out,

7 I dropped the berry in a stream

8 And caught a little silver trout.

9 When I had laid it on the floor

10 I went to blow the fire a-flame,

11 But something rustled on the floor,

12 And someone called me by my name:

13 It had become a glimmering girl

14 With apple blossom in her hair

15 Who called me by my name and ran

16 And faded through the brightening air.

17 Though I am old with wandering

18 Through hollow lands and hilly lands,

19 I will find out where she has gone,

20 And kiss her lips and take her hands;

21 And walk among long dappled grass,

22 And pluck till time and times are done,

23 The silver apples of the moon,

24 The golden apples of the sun.

“The Song of Wandering Aengus” Summary

“the song of wandering aengus” themes.

Theme Infatuation, Beauty, and Obsession

Infatuation, Beauty, and Obsession

  • See where this theme is active in the poem.

Line-by-Line Explanation & Analysis of “The Song of Wandering Aengus”

I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread;

the wandering aengus poem

And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire a-flame, But something rustled on the floor, And someone called me by my name:

Lines 13-16

It had become a glimmering girl With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air.

Lines 17-20

Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands;

Lines 21-24

And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.

“The Song of Wandering Aengus” Symbols

Symbol Hazel

  • See where this symbol appears in the poem.

Symbol Fire

Silver Trout

Symbol Apples

“The Song of Wandering Aengus” Poetic Devices & Figurative Language

  • See where this poetic device appears in the poem.

Parallelism

Alliteration, juxtaposition, “the song of wandering aengus” vocabulary.

Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.

  • On the wing
  • Apple blossom
  • See where this vocabulary word appears in the poem.

Form, Meter, & Rhyme Scheme of “The Song of Wandering Aengus”

Rhyme scheme, “the song of wandering aengus” speaker, “the song of wandering aengus” setting, literary and historical context of “the song of wandering aengus”, more “the song of wandering aengus” resources, external resources.

The Poet's Life and Work — Read a short bio of Yeats, along with other Yeats poems, at Poets.org.

The Poem Read Aloud — Hear a reading of the poem by actor Michael Gambon.

"Aengus" in Song — Listen to a 1971 adaptation of the poem by folk singer Donovan.

Yeats, Nobel Laureate — Browse an exhibit on Yeats, winner of the 1923 Nobel Prize in Literature, at Nobel.org.

The Many Sides of Yeats — Read the Poetry Foundation's introduction to the various phases of Yeats's career.

Yeats Reads His Work — Listen to a rare recording of W. B. Yeats reading his poetry aloud.

LitCharts on Other Poems by William Butler Yeats

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Sailing to Byzantium

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The Lake Isle of Innisfree

The Second Coming

The Wild Swans at Coole

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Home > Poems > The Song of Wandering Aengus

The Song of Wandering Aengus

By W. B. Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout. When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire a-flame, But something rustled on the floor, And someone called me by my name: It had become a glimmering girl With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air. Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.

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Listen to the world’s best poetry read out loud.

The song of wandering aengus, read by maurice riordan.

by William Butler Yeats

The Song of Wandering Aengus - William Butler Yeats - Read by Maurice Riordan

Yeats remarked of his early poems that they were 'the heart's cry against necessity' - he was much preoccupied by his long unrequited love for Maude Gonne, while also immersing his imagination in the lore and mythology of Ireland. The Aengus of this poem is a Celtic god, for Yeats the god of youth, beauty and poetry, though really perhaps no more than a vehicle for the poet's own longing.

When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire a-flame, But something rustled on the floor, And someone called me by my name: It had become a glimmering girl With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air.

Recording commissioned by the Poetry Archive, shared here with kind permission of our reader.

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Explore similar poems, also by william butler yeats, the second coming, sailing to byzantium, leda and the swan, long-legged fly, the fiddler of dooney, song of the old mother, by similar tags, poetry archive now wordview 2023: i chart my recovery, poetry archive now wordview 2023: her statue (i’m starting to hate my sister), poetry archive now wordview 2023: the river god, poetry archive now wordview 2023: important information enclosed, poetry archive now wordview 2023: my cancer as a ring-tailed lemur.

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The Song of Wandering Aengus

By william butler yeats, the song of wandering aengus study guide.

" The Song of Wandering Aengus " is a poem by the Irish writer W.B. Yeats, first published in 1897 before appearing in Yeats's 1899 collection The Wind Among the Reeds. The poem describes Aengus—an Irish god of youth, poetry, and love—entering the woods, where he fishes a trout out of a stream. The trout suddenly transforms into a girl, who promptly disappears. Aengus then spends his life seeking her out, becoming old in the process, though he never loses faith in his eventual success.

The work responds to the mythology surrounding the figure of Aengus, who, in Irish lore, spends years seeking out a woman who appears to him in a dream. In this way, the poem fits into the segment of Yeats's oeuvre concerned with Irish myth and legend, as well as his broader interest in the mystical and supernatural. The poem is also a product of the Irish Literary Revival, taking as its subject Celtic culture.

The poem consists of three octaves written in iambic tetrameter. It follows a songlike ABCBDEFE rhyme scheme. In its story of the woman's transformation and Aengus's subsequent search, it highlights themes of love, aging, nature, and indeed transformation and change itself.

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The Song of Wandering Aengus Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for The Song of Wandering Aengus is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Study Guide for The Song of Wandering Aengus

The Song of Wandering Aengus study guide contains a biography of William Butler Yeats, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

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The song of wandering aengus.

By W. B. Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire a-flame, But something rustled on the floor, And someone called me by my name: It had become a glimmering girl With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.

This poem is in the public domain.

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William Butler Yeats

The song of wandering aengus.

I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout. When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire aflame, But something rustled on the floor, And some one called me by my name: It had become a glimmering girl With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air. Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lads and hilly lands. I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.

The Song Of Wandering Aengus

By william butler yeats.

The Song Of Wandering Aengus

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The Song of Wandering Aengus

by William Butler Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout. When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire a-flame, But something rustled on the floor, And someone called me by my name: It had become a glimmering girl With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air. Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass , And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.

Summary of The Song of Wandering Aengus

  • Popularity of “The Song of Wandering Aengus”: William Butler Yeats, a great romantic poet, wrote ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’. It is a narrative poem about unrequited love. It was first published in 1899 in Yeats’ collection of poems, The Wind Among the Reeds . It speaks about a man who goes out in search of peace. It also reflects his quest to find a girl he once encountered in his youth. The poet continues to talk about love and beauty .
  • “The Song of Wandering Aengus”, As a Representative of Wonder: The poem speaks about the speaker ’s quest to find a beautiful girl he saw in the woods. The poem begins when the speaker goes to the Hazel Woods to find some peace as he is disturbed. While wandering in the woods, he decides to go fishing and peels a thin piece of hazel from a tree to make a wand. The soothing and enchanting nature around gives him a strange feeling and makes him perceive more than his imagination. Absorbed in the serenity of the soothing environment, he cuts the sting and throws into the water and hooks a fish. To his surprise, before he prepares his food, someone calls him by his name. The silver trout caught by the speaker turns into a glimmering girl. He is amazed by her physical appearance and tries to catch her, but she disappears in the air. The memory of that pretty girl leaves a permanent mark on his imagination. He tries to trace her everywhere, but all efforts go in vain. As he grows older, his search continues. He wishes to see her and spend the precious years of his life with her.
  • Major Themes in “The Song of Wandering Aengus”: Nature, love, and wonder are the major themes of this poem. Nature plays a central role in this poem. When the speaker is disturbed from the materialistic world, he turns toward nature to find peace. Nature offers him its wonders but also provides him with a chance to get a glimpse of a beautiful woman who magically appears. She never gets close to him, yet he feels a strong sense of belonging with that strange beauty. She also magically disappears, leaving a lasting impression on his life. At an old age, the speaker finds his unrequited and idealized love. He speaks about the nature of romantic love marked with the dimensions of private privacy.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “The Song of Wandering Aengus”

literary devices are essential elements of a literary text. They bring richness to the text and also help the readers understand hidden meanings. William Butler Yeats has also made this poem superb by using figurative language . Here is the analysis of some literary devices used in this poem.

  • Assonance : Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /ai/ in “And pluck till time and times are done”.
  • Alliteration : Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /w/ in “And when white moths were on the wing”.
  • Consonance : Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /ng/ in “And walk among long dappled grass”.
  • Enjambment : It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break . Instead, the verse continues in the next line. For example;
“It had become a glimmering girl With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air.”
  • Imagery : Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “I went out to the hazel wood”, “And walk among long dappled grass” and “And kiss her lips and take her hands.”
  • Symbolism : Symbolism is a use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. Here, “glimmering girl” is the symbol of love and beauty.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “The Song of Wandering Aengus”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  • End Rhyme : End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “hair/air”, “lands/hands” and “head/thread.”
  • Iambic Tetrameter: It is a type of meter having four iambs per line. The poem follows iambic tetrameter. For example, “ When  I had  laid   it  on  the  ”
  • Rhyme Scheme : The poem follows the ABABCDCD rhyme scheme , and this pattern continues until the end.
  • Stanza : A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem, with each comprising an equal number of verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used by a lover to describe his infinite love for his beloved .

“ Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done.”

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  1. The Song of Wandering Aengus

    With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air. Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done,

  2. The Song of Wandering Aengus by W. B. Yeats

    1865 - 1939 I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout. When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire a-flame,

  3. The Song of Wandering Aengus

    " The Song of Wandering Aengus " is a poem by Irish poet W. B. Yeats. It was first printed in 1897 in British magazine The Sketch under the title "A Mad Song." [1] It was then published under its standard name in Yeats' 1899 anthology The Wind Among the Reeds. [1]

  4. The Song of Wandering Aengus Poem Summary and Analysis

    LitCharts Get the entire guide to "The Song of Wandering Aengus" as a printable PDF. Download The Full Text of "The Song of Wandering Aengus" 1 I went out to the hazel wood, 2 Because a fire was in my head, 3 And cut and peeled a hazel wand, 4 And hooked a berry to a thread;

  5. The Song of Wandering Aengus

    'The Song of Wandering Aengus' is a compelling Yeats poem that delves into Aengus' relentless search for a mystical girl he encountered in his youth. Read Poem Poetry+ Guide Share Cite William Butler Yeats Nationality: Irish William Butler Yeats was one of the most important poets of the 20th century.

  6. The Song of Wandering Aengus

    The Song of Wandering Aengus By W. B. Yeats I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout. When I had laid it on the floor

  7. "The Song of Wandering Aengus" by W. B. Yeats

    The Poem "The Song of Wandering Aengus" I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout. When I had laid it on the floor

  8. The Song of Wandering Aengus

    The Song of Wandering Aengus I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout. When I had laid it on the floor

  9. William Butler Yeats

    1 viewer 8.2K views 7 Contributors The Song of Wandering Aengus Lyrics I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a...

  10. The Song of Wandering Aengus Analysis

    Summary Themes Questions & Answers Analysis Forms and Devices PDF Cite Share The Ballad Form "The Song of Wandering Aengus" follows the form of the ballad, a traditional structure found in both...

  11. The Song of Wandering Aengus, by W.B. Yeats

    Complete text of the poem by W.B. Yeats. THE SONG OF WANDERING AENGUS. by: W.B. Yeats. WENT out to the hazel wood, ... 'The Song of Wandering Aengus' is reprinted from An Anthology of Modern Verse. Ed. A. Methuen. London: Methuen & Co., 1921. MORE POEMS BY W.B. YEATS ...

  12. The Song of Wandering Aengus Full Text and Analysis

    William Butler Yeats's "The Song of Wandering Aengus" is a poem that draws on, and repurposes, the folklore of Yeats's native Ireland. In Celtic mythology, Aengus is the eternally youthful god of love who falls for Caer the goddess of sleep and dreams. In the myth, Aengus gets the girl and lives on in eternal youth and bliss.

  13. The Song of Wandering Aengus Study Guide

    "The Song of Wandering Aengus" is a poem by the Irish writer W.B. Yeats, first published in 1897 before appearing in Yeats's 1899 collection The Wind Among the Reeds. The poem describes Aengus—an Irish god of youth, poetry, and love—entering the woods, where he fishes a trout out of a stream. The trout suddenly transforms into a girl, who ...

  14. The Song of Wandering Aengus

    The Song of Wandering Aengus. By W. B. Yeats. I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, ... This poem is in the public domain. Discover more poems. A Coat. By W. B. Yeats.

  15. The Song Of Wandering Aengus

    The Song Of Wandering Aengus. I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout.

  16. The Song Of Wandering Aengus

    When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire a-flame, But something rustled on the floor, And someone called me by my name: It had become a glimmering girl With apple blossom in her hair Who called me by my name and ran And faded through the brightening air.

  17. Literary Devices in The Song of Wandering Aengus

    Metaphor, Simile, and Symbol: Throughout "The Song of Wandering Aengus," Yeats uses metaphors, similes, and symbols to deepen the resonance of the poem's language and images. It is clear early on in the poem that the images and stories are purveyed through metaphor.

  18. PDF "The Song of Wandering Aengus" by W. B. Yeats: A Common Core Exemplar

    While "The Song of Wandering Aengus" is not a straight rendition of the myth, the story in the poem bears a resemblance to a mythic dream-vision and the profound impact that dream-vision had on Aengus Óg. The Myth: The Dream of Aengus Óg Aengus has fallen in love with a young girl he has known only in his dreams.

  19. The Song Of Wandering Aengus by William Butler Yeats

    The Song Of Wandering Aengus. I WENT out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream. And caught a little silver trout.

  20. The Song of Wandering Aengus

    "The Song of Wandering Aengus", As a Representative of Wonder: The poem speaks about the speaker 's quest to find a beautiful girl he saw in the woods. The poem begins when the speaker goes to the Hazel Woods to find some peace as he is disturbed.

  21. The Song of Wandering Aengus

    The Song of Wandering Aengus BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout.

  22. Historical Context in The Song of Wandering Aengus

    Since Yeats titles the poem "The Song of Wandering Aengus," the "I" that narrates this poem is Aengus himself. Aengus is the god of love, youth, and poetic inspiration in Celtic mythology. He is said to be the product of an adulterous relationship between Dagda and Boann. To hide her pregnancy, Boann, his mother, made the sun stand ...

  23. "The Song of Wandering Aengus" by William Butler Yeats

    The Song of Wandering Aengus. I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream. And caught a little silver trout.