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.
Write an essay on the personal elements in Yeats’s poem with reference to “A Prayer for My Daughter.”
“A Prayer for My Daughter” is a beautiful poem written by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) in 1919 after the birth of his daughter, Anne Butler Yeats. It is a heartfelt prayer from a father to his newborn daughter. He reveals his hopes, dreams, and concerns for her future. Several autobiographical elements in the poem recollect Yeats’s own experiences and beliefs.
Yeats’ personal life: The poem is a reflection of Yeats’ personal life and his relationship with his daughter. Yeats became a father for the first time at 52, and he was deeply concerned about his daughter’s future in a rapidly changing world.
Black memory from his beloved: The poet once loved a lady named Maud Gonne but failed to marry her. The lady has no care for the poet. So, he does not want his daughter to be like the lady. He claims that no one can follow a woman who does not find a true friend.
Wishes for courtesy and kindness for his daughter: Yeats thinks that the qualities of courtesy and kindness may make his daughter strong enough to face any situation. The poet desires another quality for his daughter: spreading love to the community. He says his daughter will be like a laurel tree, spreading love around it. He also prays that his daughter avoids the evil quality of hatred and jealousy. He wants his daughter to marry into an aristocratic family where tradition and courtesy are taught. That is why he utters,
How but in custom and ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Yeats’ concern for his daughter’s future: Yeats was concerned about his daughter’s future in a rapidly changing world. He wanted his daughter to be protected from the chaos and confusion of the world and to grow up to be a strong, independent, and virtuous person. This concern for his daughter’s future is reflected in the poem as Yeats prays for her and offers her his blessings. He says,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness……….
Yeats’ beliefs about the role of women: The poem reflects Yeats’ views about the role of women in society. He talks about how he wants his daughter to be a “beautiful and dutiful wife” and how he wants her to be “full of charity.” This reflects Yeats’ belief that women should be virtuous and should fulfil traditional roles in society.
Yeats’ fear of ageing: Yeats was well aware of his mortality and the transience of human life. He feared that he would not live long enough to see his daughter grow up and face the challenges of life. This fear of ageing is reflected in the poem as Yeats talks about the passing of time and the impermanence of human life.
Yeats’s belief in the power of art: The poem reflects Yeats’s belief in the power of art to change the world. He talks about how he wants his daughter to be wise and know the things that matter. Again, he talks about how he wants her to be “famous in the nation.” It reflects Yeats’ belief that art can inspire people and change the world.
“A Prayer for My Daughter” is a profoundly autobiographical poem that reflects Yeats’s personal, political, and mystical beliefs. It is a heartfelt prayer from a father to his daughter. Through this poem, Yeats gives us a glimpse into his life and his deepest concerns and beliefs.