A Prayer for My Daughter
The poet is full of worries about the newborn child in the world of anarchy.
The daughter sleeps in a cradle comfortably, while the storm rages outside. There is a storm within the poet himself, who is full of gloomy forebodings about the future of humanity. The stormy sea – wind roars over the tower. The poet prays to be God that his daughter should be gifted with beauty but not so much as to make her
proud and cruel. The women of extraordinary beauty forget that beauty is a good source of happiness in life. They are puffed up with pride and fail to appreciate sincere love and marry bad husbands. The most beautiful Helen was responsible for the war of Troy. The beautiful women ea something and act foolishly. Therefore,the poet prays that his daughter should be gifted with a sense of courtesy. The soul of his daughter may flourish like a tree. The happy and innocent thoughts should enrich her inner self. She should have a permanent house.
Further, the poet looks into his inner self and finds hatred. According to him, hatred is the worst of all evils and prays his daughter should not have that poison in her head and heart. He wishes that his daughter should be free from that sort of hatred because it makes the woman obstinate and unreasonable. The self- willed, obstinate, strong opinion minded Maud Gonne acted foolishly and ruined her life by marrying a worthless man. In the end, the poet prays to God that his daughter should be married to an aristocratic husband, who may take her to well home, where life is traditional and ceremonious.
Questions and Answers
Q.1 Why is the poet so much worried about the future of his newborn daughter?
Ans. The Poem ‘A Prayer For My Daughter’ has been written by the Turkish poet William Butter Yeats. The poem is the worried expression of a father who is concerned about the safety of his newborn daughter. He is worried because anarchic conditions are prevailing everywhere in society. The poet says that these anarchic conditions have made the world a place where it is difficult to live with dignity and self-respect. He could see bloodshed, violence, war and immortality everywhere around him. He feels as if there are no obstacles to the storm of this anarchic condition. He considers it to be the end of the Christian era of piety and charity and the advent of a new barbaric age. So he is worried about how his daughter will survive in such a world. He wants a protective shed of virtues for his daughter. So that she can face any storm in her life, He believes that one needs to have a strong character full of virtues and charities to live with self-respect.
Q.2 In the Poem ‘A prayer for my daughter’ nature serves in both its aspects – wild and joyous. Explain.
Ans. In the Poem’ A prayer for my daughter,’ the poet has used nature to form the background of the Poem. Nature serves as a background in both its aspects – wild and joyous. The poet uses the wild and destructive aspect of nature to show the anarchic conditions that are prevailing in the world. The terms like storm, sea wind, food express the worry of the poet for the safety of his newborn daughter. He says that the storm outside also reflects in his mends. He feels that the anarchic conditions, represented by the wild and destructive aspect of nature, will and the age of piety and innocence. In the new barbaric age, he wants a protective shift for his daughter to ‘survive with dignity and self-respect. Here, he uses the joyous aspect of nature to describe the virtues that he wants for his daughter. The terms like Gregory’s wood, flourishing hidden tree, the song of the linnet bird and the evergreen. Laurel tree have been used to describe the virtues which the poet wants his daughter to acquire. The joyous aspect of nature expresses the real and eternal happiness in this poem.
Q.3 What sort of beauty does the poet solicits for his daughter? What did Helen and Venues meet with for being excessively beautiful?
Ans. The poet who is the father of a newborn daughter looks worried about her safety. He is worried about the anarchic condition the bloodshed, war, violence and immortality prevailing around him. He wishes to have a protective should of virtues for his daughter. Being a father he wants his daughter to be granted beauty but not bewitching beauty. He wants his daughter to have the beauty of heart and soul. He doesn’t want extraordinary or bewitching beauty that can distract and disturb others and bring sun in their minds. He doesn’t wish his daughter to consider beauty the ultimate end of life. He does not want her to lose her natural kindness and heart revealing intimacy. He says that if beauty is not accomplished by virtues and courtesy, it always proves fat some and destructive. He remembers Maud Gonne who was an extraordinarily beautiful lady but lacked virtues and character. She ignored the true love of the poet and suffered at the end. The poet also cites examples of Helen and venus from legends to show that beauty without moral values and courtesy brings only destruction and suffering life. He says that Helen and venus met with her misfortune and shame being excessively beautiful so he doesn’t want his daughter to follow the path of Maud Gonne, Helen and Venus.
Q.4 What is meant by the line, ‘May she become a flourishing hidden tree’? Explain.
Ans. The poet wishes qualities like courtesy and natural gladness for his daughter so that she can survive with dignity and self-respect in the world of anarchic conditions. He wishes his daughter to flourish like a hidden tree in a forest. He says that as a tree flourishes in a forest hiding from all the obstacles, he wants his daughter to grow in a healthy and steadily manner avoiding all the evils of the world.
Q.5 What are the evil effects of ‘hatred in mind’?
Ans. The poet considers hatred in mind as the chief of all evils. He says that if the mind is dominated by hatred, we lose our natural kindness and heart revealing intimacy. Hatred takes a place of natural gladness and we are unable to find a true friend in life for ourselves. If there is hatred in mind, all our virtues get vanished and we suffer in our life. He remembers Maud Gonne whose mind was dominated by hatred made her suffer severely in her life. The poet says that if there is no hatred in mind, any sort of misfortune cannot destroy the joy of life.
Q.6 Explain the symbol ‘Horn of plenty’?
Ans. In Greek culture, the horn of a goat has been placed among the stars which are believed to be a symbol of prosperity and joy. The poet considers courtesy and good manners as the real horn of plenty in life because they give the real and eternal happiness in life. He believes that if physical beauty is not accompanied by courtesy and good manners, the horn of plenty is undone. Women like Maud Gonne who was gifted with extraordinary beauty but lacked virtues of character, exchange their horn of plenty with misfortune.
Q.7 What qualities grow when the mind is without hatred?
Ans. The poet considers hatred as the worst of all evils. He says that if the mind is without any hatred, the soul recovers fundamental innocence which leads us to a life of custom, ceremony, prosperity and happiness.If there is no hatred in mind, no misfortune can destroy the joy of life. A mind without hatred remove off evils itself and learns that virtues are self delighting and self appeasing.
It does not matter then if all the world may be hostile or roaring misfortune may come, we shall still live happily.
Q.8 Why does the poet want his daughter to have a life of custom and ceremony?
Ans. The poet solicits for his daughter a life of beauty accompanied by natural kindness and heart revealing intimacy. He wishes his daughter to have qualities like soothing beauty, courtesy and natural gladness which may lead her to a life of custom and ceremony. He wants to have such a life for his daughter because real and eternal happiness is found in such an aristocratic family in which custom and ceremony are valued the most. He says that the innocence and beauty of heart and soul are born where custom and ceremony are valued. He says that ceremony is a way to happiness and custom is like a spreading laurel tree which shelters others.
Q.9 Explain the legend of Helen and Paris.
Ans. In Greek legends, Helen was the daughter of Zeus. She was extraordinarily beautiful and proud of her beauty. She was given in marriage to Menelaus, the king of Sparta. But she was not satisfied with her life and eloped with the prince of Troy, Paris. It caused a ten-year war which resulted in the destruction of the legendary kingdom of Troy and the Greeks both. The poet has used the beauty of Helen as a symbol of destructive beauty.
Q.10 Who is “The Great Queen’ in the Poem? Explain the Myth?
Ans. The great Queen has been referred to the Roman goddess Venus. In Roman mythology, Venus is considered as the goddess of beauty and love. She is said to have sprung from sea foam and to have been found floating on a lotus. Being proud of her beauty, she was given in marriage to Hephaestus, The lame and ugly looking ironsmith of god. Not be satisfied with her husband, She made love with Aris secretly but her death was revealed and she was put to shame for her unfaithfulness. In the poem, Venus is used as a symbol of showing off vain glory and false love.
Long Answer Type Questions
Q. Why does the poet want his daughter to be free from intellectual hatred and opinionated mind?
Ans. The poet considers intellectual hatred as the worst of all evils which gives rise to opinionated mind. So he wants his daughter to before from opinionated mind and intellectual hatred is the worst of all evils. It gives rise to opinionated mind. He says that one has hatred in mind, he cannot judge the things impartially. Intellectual hatred blindfolds us and we can not think fairly. We start forming prepositions about others. But preconceptions always cause misfortune. He remembers show maud Gonne could not recognise the true love of the poet and opted old Macbride as a life partner. She valued the wealth of Macbride more than the virtues and character of the poet. She had biased opinions for him and could not see his true heart full of love for her. She exchanged her joy with sorrow herself. The poet also suffered the loss of his love and doesn’t want his daughter to follow Maud Gonne. So he wants her to be free from intellectual hatred and opinionated mind.
Q. Narrate how the storm outside is reflected in the poet’s mind?
Ans. The poem ‘A Prayer for my Daughter’ by W.B. yeats expresses concern for his newborn daughter in the backdrop of the real world’s anarchic condition. There is an upheaval outside and within the poet’s mind. There is a storm outside bred on the Atlantic which also reflects in his mind. The destructive forces of nature such as storm, sea wind and flood symbolise the poet’s concern regarding bloodshed war and violence around the world. He is worried because of the devaluation of morality. He feels that there is no end to this anarchic conditions and so his mind is full of gloom for the safety of his daughter.
Q. What do the words the future years had come to symbolise in the poem?
Ans. The poet is worried because he can see an upheaval everywhere in the world. He feels that the storm which symbolises the anarchic conditions prevailing in the world has no abstracts. There is so much of destruction and immorality around hum that his agitated mind feels that the future years had come. It appears to him the end of the age of purity and innocence and arrival of a new barbaric age. He foresees the evil force of the coming years in the present. He can see the existence of the evil forces all around him. Even the innocence of the sea appears murderous to him.
Q. What is the poet’s opinion about overmuch beauty? Does he want his daughter to possess it?
Ans. The poet says that beauty without virtues is of no worth and causes only misfortune. He says that extraordinary beauty distracts anyone’s eye and becomes the reason for sun in mind. If someone has overmuch beauty, She considers it a sufficient end of life and ignores moral values. The person loses his natural kindness and heart revealing intimacy that helps to choose a true friend in life so he does not want his daughter to possess such beauty and suffer in her life like Maud Gonne.
Q. Critical appreciation of the poem, “A Prayer For My Daughter”.
The poem A Prayer For My Daughter was written in 1919. It was written after
the birth of Yeats’ first child called Annie Butler Yeats. The poet has purchased
the old tower at Thoor Balylee and renovated it and settled there soon after his marriage. The very purchased tower forms the background to the poem. It is a
sincere appeal of W. B. Yeats to God regarding his dear female infant child. He
very earnestly wishes that his daughter should be blessed by all the good aristocratic qualities.
The poem starts with the poet’s newborn child sleeping in a cradle. The
storm is full of violence with great fury outside his residence called the tower. The
poet is in a gloomy mood. He is very deeply thinking that how to protect his
innocent daughter from the tide of hard times, which she may meet in the future.
He is very anxious about his child. The disturbing ruin of the current civilization
distracts the poet’s mind. The poet prays to God that his daughter may be gifted with
beauty, which does not make a stranger’s eye perplexed. She may grow up to be
kind and able to form intimacy but not like Helen who was bored and troubled by
a fool. His daughter should be blessed with courtesy and aristocratic qualities in
keeping with the name of her house. She should have a fixed home and happy thoughts.
The poet prays to God for the beauty of his dear daughter. But it is restrained. She may be granted beauty, but not too much beauty because extreme beauty makes a woman
proud and cruel. She should not be so beautiful that she may fall in love with herself and become proud.
The poet wishes that she should have a permanent house and happy thoughts. The
soul of his daughter may grow and reach fulfilment like a ‘Flourishing tree’. Her soul should be cheerful and innocent. She should sing like the linnet (bird) and spread sweetness, music and melody all over the world. She should grow rooted in one place like the evergreen laurel tree. The poet looks within himself and finds that there is hatred inside. He considers hatred as the worst of all evils and he prays that his daughter should be free from this evil. If there is no hatred in the soul, then no one can ruin the innocence
and cheerfulness of a person. It was because of this intellectual hatred of mind that beautiful Maud Gonne married Macbride a worthless person.
The poet wishes that his daughter should not cultivate a fanatic intellect. He thinks that his daughter can remain
innocent if she is free from hatred and intellectual fanatism.
The poet’s last wish at the end of the poem is that his darling daughter may be
married to a husband belonging to an aristocratic family. Her husband should take her to a home where all is traditional and ceremonious. Arrogance and hatred are found in common people. On the other hand, the aristocratic way of life is rooted in custom and tradition, which are the sources of all beauty and innocence. ceremony and tradition preserve spiritual values, which are noble and lofty and pass them on from generation to generation.
We see the usual thing about an affectionate father praying for the future prosperity and well being of his child. Yeats deep concern for his daughter derives an added significance and distress from the visions of coming anarchy, which he expressed in his the poem ‘The Second Coming’. This threatening background accounts for the poet’s gloomy mood in the opening stanza of the poem. This storm within his soul finds its symbol in the storm which rages outside. The sense of the disturbance and destructive possibilities of storm howling outside intensified by contrast with the cosy, peaceful picture of the child sleeping comfortably. In addition to this, the prayer derives its force and significance from the personal experiences of the poet. The reference is with his beloved Maud Gonne, who made him unhappy by neglecting sincere love and then ruined her own life by marrying a foolish John Macbride. The poet strengthens his view by giving examples from history and legend. Helen eloped with Paris and brought about the destructive Trojan war. Venus the goddess of beauty and youth foolishly married Hephaestus, the lame ironsmith of the gods. Thus the poet gives great value to courtesy.