The poem is organised into four rhetorical questions in lines 5, 10, 11, 12. A rhetorical question is a question in which the answer is implied and therefore doesn't demand an answer. It is used here by Yeats as a means of coming to terms with the reality of his relationship with Maud Gonne. The opening statement of the poem "Why should I blame her that she filled my days with misery" can interpreted as a disclaimer or as absolution for Maud Gonne. Yeats recognises that Maud Gonne's character made her act the manner in which she did, though this resulted in misery for him, there was little blame that he could attach to her.
The second statement "or that she would of late have taught to ignorant men most violent ways" contains both praise and criticism of Maud Gonne. The men who supported her are described by Yeats as ignorant by comparison with her intelligence, but Yeats does not support the use of violence, he fears that she will be responsible for a revolution, which would pitch Ireland against the might of the British Empire - "Or hurled the little streets upon the great". The use of the word "hurled" contains another criticism of Irish Nationalists who because of a shortage of weapons, drilled with hurley sticks and Yeats saw Maud Gonne leading those hurley-wielding men into battle with the British Army. The rhetorical question is completed as Yeats asks "had they but courage equal to desire?" suggesting that these "ignorant men", unlike Maud Gonne, lacked the courage to rise up. This is why Yeats was particularly surprised by the 1916 Rising and later in his poem "Easter 1916" paid tribute to the bravery of those men.
The second rhetorical question provides Yeats an explanation of the character of Maud Gonne. She is described in terms of classical beauty, in a series of warlike metaphors and similes. In lines 6 - 10, the poet attempts to understand the mind of Maud Gonne. He describes it as being noble with the simplicity of fire, a simile designed to...
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