As discussed today in class, the basic interpretation of “The Song of Wandering Aengus” is straightforward. The narrator, Aengus, represents nationalists seeking to return to an idealized Ireland, as symbolized by the “glimmering girl,” (13). Like traditional Ireland, the girl may or may not exist and, because of this, the narrator will never reach her. However, the embedded mythology complicates this simple cultural nationalist reading. The poem immediately alludes to Celtic folklore when the narrator declares he “went out to the hazel wood” (1) as the hazel tree traditionally represents wisdom. In Irish myth, the concentration of the wisdom and knowledge was believed to reside in the hazelnut. The wisdom could be transferred into a salmon if it ate the hazelnut and a human could then imbibe the wisdom by cooking and eating the salmon. Yeats’ poem alludes to hazel trees, not only by setting the poem in the hazel wood, but also when Aengus fishes with a “hazel wand” (3) and uses what is presumably a hazel berry as bait. Despite these similarities to Celtic myth, Aengus uses a berry, not a hazelnut, when fishing, and ultimately catches “a little silver trout” (8), not a salmon. The poem suggests that Aengus is attempting to emulate the myth, yet his misinformation in regards to Irish tradition prevents him from doing so. In fact, instead of manifesting itself as wisdom, the trout becomes a beautiful girl, or an object of desire. In this way, the discrepancies from the myth result in a sort of antithesis of wisdom in that Aengus becomes consumed with the unknown rather than becoming more knowledgeable. Just as Aengus becomes consumed with the mystical and desirable “glimmering girl,” cultural nationalists became enamored with a romanticized version of traditional Ireland. Aengus’ misinformation concerning Celtic mythology becomes his undoing, just as an image of traditional Ireland, romanticized beyond reality, becomes a symbol that cannot be reached.