A Prayer for My Daughter - Analysis

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Analysis of A Prayer for my Daughter by W.B. Yeats, Stanzas 9-10 Stanza 9: Yeats states that if hatred is ridded off, “the soul recovers radical innocence.” Hatred causes sin and violence; hence to be rid of it is to be innocent of these crimes. Innocence is beautiful in women. “Innocence” is radical because it is rooted in the soul. “Considering that, all hatred driven hence, / The soul recovers radical innocence”. A radical is a term for a root. In another perspective, the “innocence” is “radical” or unconventional because after the war, innocence became more uncommon. Hence, it is “radical” or something new to be innocent, as it defies the flow of convention.

“And learns at last that it is self-delighting, / self-appeasing, self-affrighting”. Innocence causes these attributes in the soul. It delights the soul, for there is no hatred; it is peaceful and soothing, yet it is “self-affrighting’ because it is frightening that others can take advantage of one’s innocence.

“That its own sweet will in Heaven’s will; / She can, though every face should scowl / And every windy quarter howl / Or every bellows burst, be happy still.” Goodness is heaven’s will because the soul is supposed to be good. Goodness makes Anne happy: “its own sweet will is Heaven’s will.” Yeats states that Anne can still be happy amid chaos, unhappiness, quarrels and problems if she is innocent and free of hatred. “She can, though every face should scowl/ And every windy quarter howl/ Or very bellows burst, be happy still. If she is good, no one can harm her. So males will not overwhelm her (?) If the soul knows itself, “wind” or destructive forces cannot harm her, for the mind is at peace with itself.

Literary devices: repetition – “self-delighting/ self-appeasing, self-affrighting” Parallelism - “self-delighting/ self-appeasing, self-affrighting” Metaphors – “every face should scowl” – unhappiness and hostility “bellows burst” – chaos, arguments. May have reference to McBride’s “hot...
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