The summary of A prayer for My Daughter by William Butler Yeats opens up with an image of the poet’s daughter who is fast asleep in her cradle. The storm he talks about at the very onset of the poem is nothing but a contrast to the quiet sleep of the baby. The poet is worried about his child and his gloominess of mind is well portrayed through the first stanza itself.
In the first stanza itself, the backdrop of the weather with the storm raging is nothing but a potent representation of Yeats feelings and his concern for the well-being of his daughter. This poem was penned after the World War has ended and the phase where he is a dangerous one which makes him worried about the future and how her daughter will fit in. The innocence and vulnerability of his daughter is well symbolized by the words “coverlid” and “cradle-hood” which shows how protected she is in her cradle.
The theme of A Prayer for My Daughter is a significant portrayal of the violent forces that surrounds the baby; something that she is ignorant of and is still unaffected or unmoved. The several different forces which pose a threat for the baby; famine, riots, starvation, violence is a sharp contrast to her innocence knowledge that protects her as she sleeps on.
The second stanza of the poem continues to head on and progress still depicting the gloominess of the poets mind and that he is worried about his daughter; Anne. (“I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour). The usage of the term “Flooded stream” represents the idea of A Prayer for My Daughter as the poet continues to explain how worried he is at the existence of the troublemakers in the society and in this world as he talks about the “elms” that are tossed out by the destructive forces. The tone of the poem reflected in A Prayer for My Daughter by William Butler Yeats is one of frenetic and chaotic in nature where human emotions are on display.
However, the poem does experience a sudden shift of mood when the poet employing his power of imagination fancies how he would help his daughter that gradually puts down his worries to rest for some time. Further, it also grants the poem a pessimistic mood, and all of a sudden Yeats seems to be excited about the impending future. (“Imagining…the future years had come/Dancing to a frenzied drum.” Anne’s life will pass in chaos. “Dancing to a frenzied drum”). The passing years when his daughter grows up into a girl is echoed in the drum beats which is both responsible for the rhythm and tempo that is important in one’s life.
In the summary of A prayer for my daughter by William Butler Yeats, the innocence of the baby is juxtaposed in a contrasting flavor; “murderous”. Her world is her sea all around and it’s evil and bodes ill for one and all. The usage of “murderous” makes the sea even more dangerous as the poet feels that there are people in this society who would try to manipulate and mold his daughters mind and might do evil things to her.
Yeats also talks about her beauty which he feels will be her strength and give her the feeling of fulfilment and help her make a better of character in times to come. At the same time, he also prays to God to retain her feminine innocence so that she can shake off all negative virtues that reside within a human being and emerge strong and decisive in her won good mannered way. Yeats refers to the story of Helen of Troy who had married a stupid man called Paris and that her life was doomed in a certain way as she wasn’t a good judge of character.
In the following stanza of the poem, Yeats wants her daughter to be courteous and polite, benevolent and helpful and that she must know that love doesn’t come freely; one has to earn it in the right way.(“Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned.” )