A Prayer For My Daughter A Prayer for My Daughter is a poem written by William Butler Yeats in 1919. This poem is a pray-like poem. And it generally tells about the poet’s ideas about his daughter who is sleeping at the same time while the poem is being told. Throughout the poem the Yeats reflects that how he wants his daughter’s future should be.
This essay will analyze the poem under three subtitle: 1- What does this poem mean”, 2- The poetic devices, imagery, rhyming, figures of speech, used in the poem and mood, diction, language, and the structure of the poem, 3- An essay in a feminist point of view titled “What does the poet want his daughter to become”” . The poet is watching his infant daughter sleep. In the first stanza he starts with describing the setting of the poem. It is stormy outside, there is a kind of dark and gloomy weather and he prays for her.
And he says that he has gloom in his mind and we will understand that what gloom is that in his mind. In the second stanza the poet describes the things while he was praying for his daughter. He walks for an hour and notices the “sea-wind scream upon the tower”, “under the arches of the bridge”, “in the elms above the flooded stream. ” They probably represent the dreaming of the human beings and they are decisive. They are all about the present things and they block people from thinking about the future events.
The last four lines of the second stanza clearly explain this idea: “Imagining in excited reverie That the future years had come, Dancing to a frenzied drum, Out of the murderous innocence of the sea. ” In the third stanza he prays for her beauty, but not too much. He considers the beauty as a decisive element for choosing the right person to marry. He emphasizes that too much beauty may cause her loose the “natural kindness” thus that might prevent her from finding the “heart-revealing intimacy” and a true friend.
Related with the third stanza, the fourth stanza refers to Helen herself, who “being chosen found life flat and dull,” and also to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who chose her spouse the cripple, Hephaestus. Helen “had much trouble from a fool”, the fool is Menelaus, the husband of Helen, whom she deserted in favor of Paris. Whereas Aphrodite suffered from “being fatherless”, hence without a father to guide her, Yeats intends to be a guiding father to his young daughter. The fifth stanza describes the quality that Yeats came to see as at the very heart of civilized life: courtesy.
By courtesy he understands a means of being in the world that would protect the best of human dignity, art and emotion. And in his prayer for his daughter he wishes that she will learn to survive with grace and dignity in a world turned horrific. He explains that many men have hopelessly loved beautiful women, and they thought that the women loved them as well but they did not. In the sixth stanza he hopes that his daughter will be a “flourishing hidden tree”, which is not rebel but kind and happy, but contains her happiness within a particular place.
And additionally he wants his daughter to be not argumentative and aggressive, or perhaps quite and secure, “rooted in one dear perpetual place. ” When combined with the previous line, the last line clearly defines his hope fro daughter to live in a victorious life “like a green laurel. ” And the linnet also represents that he wants her thoughts to be a guide for a good life for her and her life to be in a good fate. In the seventh stanza he tells about himself a little bit, and we can conclude that he also suffered from love and beauty, but he also emphasize that hatred is drying and destructive.
Thus he asserts that hatred is the worst response one can have in the world. He hopes that his daughter will not have such strong opinions which are the forms of hatred. Then he implies that “an intellectual hatred” is the worst of hatreds. In this stanza he uses an image “Plenty’s horn. ” It symbolizes the source of the rich gifts that will be given, served to his daughter. This part of the poem also accuses “the loveliest woman”, Maud Gonne, because of not using properly the gifts given to her and he hopes that her daughter will use them well and wisely.
Ninth stanza serves the ideas of Yeats about hatred and recovering of the world. He supports that a woman can heal herself by getting away from hatred and also the world can be purified by avoiding from hatred and diversions. Thus we can recover the innocence and we can “be happy still. ” In the conclusion stanza he hopes her daughter to be married in ceremony, of which source is the “horn” again. He uses the ceremony to symbolize the richness of the horn and the power of the “laurel tree. ” POETIC DEVICES
Onomatopoeia (the use of words that sound like the thing that they are describing) – howling, scream, spray, choke, scowl, howl Repetition (saying the same thing many times) – in the ninth stanza: self-appeasing, self-delighting, and self-affrighting Alliteration (the use of several words together that begin with the same sound or letter in order to make a special effect) – howling, and half hid, cradle-hood and coverlid, great gloom, sea-wind scream, being made beautiful, like the linnet, live like, linnet from the leaf, hatred driven hence, recovers radical, bellows burst, bridegroom bring, find a friend Assonance (similarity in the vowel sounds of words that are close together in a poem)- walked and prayed, young-hour, such-overmuch, trouble- fool, with-meat, yet-that-played, beauty-very, poor-roved, loved-thought-beloved, hidden-tree, dried-late, linnet-leaf, should-scowl, quarter-bowl, hatred-wares, spreading laurel tree. FIGURES OF SPEECH Metaphor- Ceremony is used for the Plenty’s horn, custom is used for the spreading laurel tree, linnet is used for good faith, and laurel is used for having a victorious life Personification- Sea-wind scream-human being, years… dancing-human being, frenzied drum- human being, angry wind- human being, Simile- “all her thoughts may like the linnet be”, “may she live like some green laurel” Juxtaposition- “murderous innocence” Imagery- The “storm” is representing the dangerous outside forces, may be the future that she will encounter with soon.
The “cradle” is representing his daughter’s babyhood. The sea is the source of the wind and logically is the source of “future years” as well. The “murderous innocence” is attributed to the sea and represents poet’s daughter and the outside world which waits for her. He uses the imagery “dried” for his mind to explain how the bad ideas are rooted in his mind. And also he uses the “horn” as ceremony and the “tree” as custom. LANGUAGE, DICTION, MOOD, STRUCTURE The language used in the poem is like the language used in lectures and also prayer. The word “may” gives to the poem a pray-like mood. The narrator is the poet’s himself, and he tells the poem quite personal.
He uses “I”, “she”, “my daughter” to make it personalize. The moods of the stanzas are different than the others. But the first stanza has a frightening atmosphere. In the second stanza he is anxious about what will future bring to her, the third one has the same mood but in here he is careful. In the next one he uses classical mythology to express his obsessions. The fifth one is a little bit more confident and hopeful. The sixth one is more cautious and has a negative mood. The seventh is self aware, strong and kind of regretful. And the last three stanzas are written in a happy mood and have hopefulness. The structure of the poem is not complex to analyze.
It has 10 stanzas and eight lines each. It was written in iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme is aabbcddc, and the rhythm is regular. WHAT DOES THE POET WANT HIS DAUGHTER TO BECOME The poem is about William Butler Yeats ideas, and his anxiety about his baby daughter’s future and life. He wants his daughter to become a woman who is virtuous, wise. He uses the image of his daughter partly to represent his ideal woman. Most of the images that he uses are parts of the ideal woman he has in his mind or its opposites. He supports that a woman should be “a flourishing hidden tree”, who is not well-known but beautiful. She shouldn’t be anything but “merry. ” Innocence” is beautiful in women, that’s why if his daughter keeps her innocence inside and do not abuse it, she will not be affected by the “wind. ” He thinks that too much beauty distorts women, and causes them to destroy the gifts that are given by “Horn of Plenty” thus he wants his daughter to use the gifts wisely and properly. And he wants his daughter to learn the fact that “hearts are earned”, and the men, who are deceived by just beauty, will notice their mistake later. He wants her daughter not to have strong opinions like hatred, because he thinks that hatred is the worst thing in the world. He hopes she will marry, and her house will be full of customs.
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