A Prayer for My Daughter : quotations

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A Prayer for My Daughter is a notable literary work by William Butler Yeats. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of A Prayer for My Daughter.


I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;

Explanation: In these lines, the speaker conveys the setting where he has walked and prayed for his daughter. The sea wind “screaming” indicates a turbulent and harsh external environment, emphasizing the challenges and dangers he worries his daughter may encounter in life.

Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

Explanation: These lines depict the concern that if his daughter fails her natural kindness and the ability to form heart-revealing and empathetic connections, she may never find a true friend. The speaker loves these qualities as crucial for a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-leggèd smith for man.

Explanation: In this quotation, the speaker refers to two figures from Greek mythology, Helen and a “great Queen” (possibly referring to Aphrodite). He distinguishes the experiences of these women. Helen, though chosen by Paris, discovered life lacking in depth and later faced trouble. In contrast, the great Queen, despite having more agency (being fatherless), made a choice that might not be regarded as conventional (choosing a “bandy-leggèd smith” for a husband). This depicts the unpredictable nature of life and love.

My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,

Explanation: These lines describe the idea that the speaker’s mind is exploited by the minds and types of beauty that he has cherished and appreciated in his life. It indicates that his perspective on what is valuable and beautiful is shaping his thoughts and prayers for his daughter.

How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?

Explanation: Here, the speaker considers the role of custom and ceremony in the birth of innocence and beauty. He indicates that these cultural and social constructs play a vital role in preserving qualities like innocence and beauty, which are important to him.