William Butler Yeats’ poem “A Prayer for my Daughter,” written in 1919, is an amazing poem that reveals the anxieties that Yeats had for the future wellbeing of his newborn daughter, Anne. This notion powerfully reflects the worries shared by all fathers that were torn by war and greed in the 20th century.
As Anne sleeps under her “cradle-hood and coverlid,” Yeats portrays that she is filled innocence and is vulnerable to the world (Yeats, line 2). This is further evident through the metaphor of a storm with “roof-leveling winds,” which symbolises the political turmoil caused by the Irish War of Independence in Ireland (Yeats, line 5).
As a father, Yeats seeks to protect his daughter during these harsh times by giving her a life of beauty, innocence, safety and security. This is demonstrated as he prays for his daughter to be “granted beauty and yet not Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught” (Yeats, line 18). The personification of a stranger’s “distraught” eye reiterates that beauty can be “distracting and destructive” when trying to form relationships. This explores the importance for one to obtain inner beauty, rather than physical beauty, in order to find natural companionship.
The ideas that Yeats presents within his poem reminds me of a famous quote from Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
– “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind,” William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
This quote deals with the plays ideas that love does not look with reason (the eye), instead, it looks with the imagination (the mind).
Moreover, these texts are able to reflect the “obsession” that our current society has with physical beauty throughout social media platforms, magazines and television. Jean Baudrillard, a French cultural theorist also has a theory that the artificial world and reality is blurred due to media infestations within our minds (Ljubomir, 120). Therefore, I personally believe that individuals should not be influenced to try and meet society’s expectations of what is considered “beautiful” because it can strip their sense of identity and individuality within the world. Everyone is unique and BEAUTIFUL in their own way!
We must learn to accept each other’s difference because it will make a “better tomorrow” and world for future generations. Furthermore, after reading this poem, I was able to see that I have a connection to Yeats’ passion for morality and purity, rather than arrogance and false conceptions within society.
Click the link below to watch a short biography of William Butler Yeats:
Works Cited List
Masirevic, Ljubomir. “Media and Postmodern Reality.” Sociologija 52.2 (2010): 127-40. Web. URL: https://acu-eduprimo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/sb9f4f/TN_proquest128364080
William Butler Yeats, “A Prayer for My Daughter.” 1921. Poetry Foundation. Web. Accessed 20 September 2020. URL: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/14635/a-prayer-for-my-daughter
Image 1: “Goodreads”. Web. Accessed 20 September 2020. URL: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22912364-a-prayer-for-my-daughter
Image 2: Thoor “Ballylee. Yeets Thoor Bayley Society”. Web. Accessed 20 September 2020. Image retrieved from: https://yeatsthoorballylee.org/
Image 3: “Globe Player.” Web. Accessed 20 September 2020. URL: https://globeplayer.tv/videos/a-midsummer-night-s-dream-english
Image 4: Social Media. “Web Design Hub.” Web. Accessed 20 September 2020. retrieved from: https://www.webdesignerhub.com/beautiful-social-media-icons-use-website/
Image 5: Margaret, Mead. “Margaret Mead> Quotes > Quotable Quote.” Goodreads, Web. Accessed 20 September 2020. URL:https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/61107.Margaret_Mead.