What Type of Virtues does Yeats Desire for his Daughter?

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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.


What type of virtues does Yeats desire for his daughter in the poem/ What are the elementary attributes that Yeats wants from his daughter?

The poem “A Prayer for My Daughter” by W.B. Yeats is a heartfelt plea for his daughter’s safety, happiness, and well-being. In the poem, Yeats describes his hopes and dreams for his daughter’s future. He highlights the importance of virtues that will help her navigate life’s challenges. Here are some of the virtues that Yeats desires for his daughter:

Innocence: Yeats begins the poem by asking the gods to preserve his daughter’s virginity. He desires that she will remain free from the corrupting influence of the world and its vices.

Inner Beauty and Character: Yeats wishes for his daughter to have inner beauty and potency of character. He prays that she may have a soul that is innocent, pure, and wise. He also wishes for her to be unwavering and stable in her principles and values. Again, he wants her to have a peaceful, tender, and compassionate heart. It is evident in his tongue,

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make stranger’s eye distraught.

Grace: Yeats hopes for his daughter to move through life with grace and ease. He desires that she will handle whatever comes her way with poise and dignity.

Intelligence: Yeats desires his daughter to be intelligent and thoughtful, to be able to discern truth from falsehood, and to make wise decisions.

Moral courage: Yeats believes that his daughter will encounter ethical dilemmas in life. He wants her to have the courage to do what is right, even when it is difficult.

Self-awareness: Yeats wants his daughter to be self-aware, to know herself deeply, and to be able to understand her motivations and emotions.

Compassion: Yeats values compassion and empathy. He hopes that his daughter will be able to see the world through the eyes of others and offer kindness and support to those in need.

Strength and Resilience: Yeats identifies that life can be challenging at times. He prays that his daughter may have the power and resilience to face life’s challenges and overcome them with grace and dignity. He says,

In courtesy, I’d have her chiefly learned,
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful.

Humility: Yeats values humility, and he hopes that his daughter will be able to acknowledge her limitations and mistakes and learn from them.

Gratitude: Yeats wants his daughter to be grateful for the blessings in her life, to appreciate the beauty of the world around her, and to find joy in small things.

Yeats’ acknowledgement: In the poem, Yeats acknowledges that he cannot control his daughter’s destiny, but he prays that she will be able to cultivate these virtues and find happiness and fulfilment in life. He also recognizes that his own beliefs and biases may not be what is best for his daughter, and he hopes that she will be able to find her path and make her own choices.

“A Prayer for My Daughter” is a poignant and heartfelt expression of a father’s hopes and dreams for his child. Yeats expects his daughter to have a rich and meaningful life full of beauty, grace, intelligence, and moral courage. He hopes that she will be able to navigate the challenges of the world with compassion, perseverance, humility, and gratitude.