"Adam's Curse" is written in first person, and it is safe to assume the speaker is Yeats himself, through his reference to the effort required to write poetry as well as the fact that the poem speaks to a once great, now weary-hearted' love. This second point is significant, given that Yeats' own great unrequited love of a decade and a half, Maud Gonne, had married Major John MacBride in early 1903.
Yeats presents the tragic themes and ideas in "Adam's Curse" with an understated grace, achieving an honest and affecting tone. The poem is written in heroic couplets, giving it a regularity of rhythm and rhyme that add to the speaker's gentle candor and create a sense of peacefulness, which Yeats refers to as "an alluring monotony."
The first stanza re-creates a conversation between the speaker (Yeats), his love (Maud), and her friend, a beautiful mild woman', and immediately introduces key ideas of the inherent difficulty of beauty, and the lack of appreciation for the poetic process and product; A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought,
Out stitching and unstitching has been naught.'
Thus, the poet's paradox is introduced: the greatest effort...