In the poem 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' by W. B. Yeats, what is the literary technique being used in the phrase, 'for peace comes dropping slow'? I'm not sure if it's anthropomorphism, pathetic fallacy, personification or a metaphor. What should I call it?

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;


1 Answer 1


There are several figures in these two lines. In “peace comes dropping slow”, peace is described as falling slowly, resembling some kind of gentle precipitation—mist or smur or drizzle. This is an implicit comparison (of peace to precipitation) and so the device is a metaphor. The displacement of description of an emotion (peacefulness) to the weather (the gentle precipitation) is an instance of pathetic fallacy. In “from the veils of the morning”, the morning sky is described as a veil, because the mist occludes the view: this is a second metaphor. A veil is an item of clothing, so this characterizes the morning as a person, a figure of personification. And the stridulation of the cricket is described as singing: this is a third metaphor and a second personification. Description of crickets singing is sufficiently common that one might consider the figure “dead” in this case, but here’s a reader who thought it was still living:

In Yeats’s poem “peace” is presented in a powerful metaphor (“peace comes dropping slow”), which is suggestive neither of rain nor of fog, “Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings”, but of something else or of both rain and fog, indicating a slow iridescent movement of peaceful time from the dawn to the dusk and beyond. There are also other figures of speech here like a synecdoche (“Nine bean-rows will I have there”) and a personification as in the cricket’s singing which contribute to the description of nature.

G. M. Javed Arif (2021). ‘Man, Nature, and Imagination: a Comparative Reading of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” And “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”’. In Khulna University Studies 19:1, p. 23.

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