"A Prayer for My Daughter" is a poem written by William Butler Yeats in 1919. This poem is a prayer-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 Yeats reflects how he wants his daughter's future to be. This essay will analyze the poem in three sections: 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?" .
1-WHAT DOES THIS POEM MEAN?
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",...