This poem opens with a striking use of imagery, a winter scene is immediately thought of with a feeling of cold surroundings and bleakness. Its opens with almost a realisation of reality and the truth to his own failures in love in relation to Maude Gonn although she is not directly mentioned. This poem centres mainly around the emptiness and sadness in his life – how he is bitterly disillusioned it is used as a catalyst for his shock that there may be no happy ending to his love and longing bu that it may consist of emptiness and bitter regret.
His earlier poetry discusses longing a sorrow for his love of Maude Gonn and his passions such as and old romantic Ireland. Here though his writings consist of emotional intensity and shows a cry of despair. He imagines a world and after life that is bleak and that his soul is forever wondering for something new and different he never feels rest from torment or sorrow. This poem creates an insightful reflection to his sadness and loneliness throughout his life, his fulfillment of his love for Maude Gonn and the realisation of self-understanding.
The structure and language of the poem are important in showing a true interpretation of the meaning and message of the poem. Line one shows an opening of a bleak winter scene with emptiness and an ironic compound in that of “rook-delighting” this shows the birds are flying through the cold heavens and sky creating a striking gothic image. Line two shows Yeats overwhelmed at the emptiness of the scene and the truth that there is nothing in life to offer as release for his sorrows. Line three shows a connection to the reader, he is almost breaking into our imagination and saying there is nothing there, except old memories of a life he once had.
The second section of the poem sees complete confusion in the life he now leads and how the changes have caused him to interpret life and death different. The closing line ends with a question in which shows a disturbing image of complete despair and the idea of his wondering soul having no rest or understanding of the unfortunate consequences and sorrow that have now occurred.