A Prayer for My Daughter – William Butler Yeats W. B. Yeats William Butler Yeats (June 13, 1865 – January 28, 1939), often referred to as W. B. Yeats, was an Irish poet, dramatist and mystic. He served as an Irish Senator in the 1920s. He was born in Dublin, in 1865, the firstborn of John Butler Yeats and Susan Mary Yeats. His father was a lawyer and a well-known portrait painter. Yeats was educated in London and in Dublin, but he spent his summers in the west of Ireland in the family’s summer house at Connaught. In 1877, W. B. ntered Godolphin school, which he attended for four years, after which he continued his education at Erasmus Smith High School, in Dublin. For a time (from 1884 – 1886), he attended the Metropolitan School of Art. In 1885, Yeats’ first poems were published in the Dublin University Review. The young Yeats was very much part of the fin de siecle in London; at the same time he was active in societies that attempted an Irish literary revival. His first volume of verse appeared in 1887, but in his earlier period his dramatic production outweighed his poetry both in bulk and in import.In 1896, he met Lady Gregory who encouraged his nationalist views and convinced him to continue focusing on writing drama. Together they founded the Irish Theatre, which was to become the Abbey Theatre, and served as its chief playwright until the movement was joined by John Synge. His plays usually treat Irish legends; they also reflect his fascination with mysticism and spiritualism. The Countess Cathleen (1892), The Land of Heart’s Desire (1894), Cathleen ni Houlihan (1902), The King’s Threshold (1904), and Deirdre (1907) are among the best known.After 1910, Yeats’ dramatic art took a sharp turn toward a highly poetical, static, and esoteric style. His later plays were written for small audiences; they experiment with masks, dance, and music, and were profoundly influenced by the Japanese Noh plays. Although a convinced patriot, Yeats deplored the hatred and the bigotry of the Nationalist movement, and his poetry is full of moving protests against it. He was highly interested in mysticism and spiritualism, and attended his first seance in 1886.Later, Yeats became heavily involved with hermeticist and theosophical beliefs, and in 1900 he became head of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which he joined in 1890. That same year, maintaining his interest in the literary arts, Yeats cofounded the Rhymer’s Club with John Rhys. All his life, Yeats maintained friendships with a number of poets and literary figures; for a time in 1913, Ezra Pound served as Yeats’ secretary. Yeats was also known and respected by Oscar Wilde, John Millington Synge, T. S. Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, among others.Yeats was appointed to the Irish Senate in 1922, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1923. Yeats is one of the few writers whose greatest works were written after the award of the Nobel Prize. Whereas he received the Prize chiefly for his dramatic works, his significance today rests on his lyric achievement. His poetry, especially the volumes The Wild Swans at Coole (1919), Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1921), The Tower (1928), The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933), and Last Poems and Plays (1940), made him one of the outstanding and most influential twentieth-century poets writing in English.His recurrent themes are the contrast of art and life, masks, cyclical theories of life (the symbol of the winding stairs), and the ideal of beauty and ceremony contrasting with the hubbub of modern life. After suffering from a variety of illnesses for a number of years, Yeats died in France in January, 1939, eight months before the German invasion of Poland. Soon afterward, Anglo-American poet W. H. Auden composed the poem In Memory of W. B. Yeats. The well known opening lines of the final section of this poem read simply: “Earth receive an honoured guest: / William Yeats is laid to rest. “.Yeats was first buried at Roquebrune, until his body was moved to Drumecliff, Sligo in September, 1948. Of this location, Yeats said, “the place that has really influenced my life most is Sligo. ” The town is also home to a statue and memorial building in Yeats’ honour. Background to the poem The term ‘new nationalism’ came to describe the rise from the 1890’s of a more uncompromising nationalist spirit in Ireland. The contemporary ‘literary revival’ was a further expression of this nationalism. The term refers to a group of poets, prose-writers and playwrights who for inspiration looked to Irish myths, folklore and popular culture.The main focus of the movement was to use Gaelic material as the basis for a revitalised Irish literature in English. It was dominated by writers from middle-upper class Protestant backgrounds who broadly sympathised with Ireland’s claim to independence and hoped their writings would help bring together all of the nation’s religions and classes. Apart from the exceptional quality of their output, an enduring legacy of the movement was the establishment of the Abbey Theatre in 1904 – its purpose, to produce Irish national drama.Yeats was a prominent member of this literary revival and was responsible for founding the Abbey Theatre with Lady Gregory. However, the 1916 Easter Rising and the War of Independence that followed in 1919-21 transformed the political landscape in Ireland. The movement became militant and extreme, something Yeats could not condone. In 1888, Yeats met Maud Gonne, a young heiress who was beginning to devote herself to the Irish nationalist movement. Gonne admired Yeats’ early poem The Isle of Statues and sought out his acquaintance. Maud Gonne, who was from an aristocratic family, combined beauty with nationalistic fervour.The poet, aged only twenty-three at the time, fell violently in love with her. Under her influence he became more and more deeply involved in Irish politics and even for a time joined the extremist revolutionary Irish Republican Brotherhood. He proposed to her several times but was rejected each time. In 1903, Maud Gonne married Irish nationalist John MacBride. The year 1916 was of great significance in the life and career of Yeats. He refused a knighthood offered by the British Government, and the Easter Rising flared up. An Irish Republic was proclaimed.The British Government responded with repression and mass deportations, and sixteen of the revolutionary leaders were hanged. Among them was Maud Gonne’s husband, from whom she was separated. She was in France at the time and Yeats went there to propose to her yet again. She refused, whereupon he turned to her adopted daughter, Iseult, who too rejected him. Yeats married Georgie Hyde-Lees, whom he had known for some years, in 1917; the couple went on to have two children, Anne, who was born on February 26, 1919, and Michael. His marriage was happy and serene and his wife had a positive influence on his growth as a poet.He purchased the tower, then known as Ballylee Castle, for the sum of ? 35 in 1917. He renovated it and renamed it Thoor Ballylee; however he, his family and the many friends who stayed with them there simply referred to it as ‘the Tower’. Yeats never lived in Ballylee full time, it was a summer home chosen because it was close to Coole Park, home of his life-long friend Lady Augusta Gregory. However he, his wife (Georgie Hyde-Lees) and their children Anne and Michael, spent long periods there and his love for the place is evident in his writing, especially in one of his later collections of poems.His daughter, Annie Butler Yeats, was born on February 26, 1919. Yeats wrote A Prayer for My Daughter after her birth in February-June, 1919, and it appeared in the volume entitled Michael Robartes and the Dancer in 1921. Summary Primarily the poem is an exploration of the importance certain moral values had for Yeats. It also explores the centrality of rituals and traditions because to Yeats values and culture were inseparable. The poem was written with an anxiety for his daughter’s future. Under the protective security of her cradle and its covers the baby sleeps on, oblivious to the strife-ridden situation of Ireland—her motherland.The world around her was undergoing a stormy change—Ireland being a part of this. With such a background it is natural that the father is anxious for his daughter and her future. The father prays that his daughter be blessed with beauty. But he does not want such beauty that distracts its viewers or that makes her vain. Such beauty may be harmful since vanity is a woman’s worst enemy. Beauty should make her use ‘her natural kindness’, not lose it. The beauty he seeks is the beauty from within. Hearts should be won with natural kindness and inherent goodness.The father has a vision of what he wants his daughter to become— “a flourishing tree’ that is hidden and thus does not display itself. The poet is anxious that his daughter may be granted courtesy. His reason a girl can win her man’s heart by her virtues and good manners. The poet wants his daughter’s mind to be free from hate and intellectual hatred. The poet refers to Maud Gonne’s intellectual hatred kept her aloof from her lover and in the end inspired her to become a revolutionary orator full of inflammatory speeches.In this process, she ruined her life. That is why the poet wishes that his daughter should be free from the vice and might live happily even if the whole world turned hostile to her. In the concluding part of the poem, the poet prays to God that his daughter may be married to a man, belonging to an aristocratic family in which refined manners, courtesy and traditions are maintained. The custom and ceremony are the sources of innocence, beauty, happiness, prosperity, gladdening success and honour in life. Detailed Explanation with Annotations Verse 1:The poem A Prayer for My Daughter is a poem by an anxious father—anxious for his daughter and her future. The backdrop is of a country (Ireland) racked by violence. It is as visible as the stormy sea that howls in anger with no ‘obstacle/But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill’. Oblivious of this his daughter sleeps on innocently, secure in her little world ‘under this cradle-hood and coverlid’. The woods and one bare hill were a poor attempt made to lessen the impact of the storm that the Atlantic brewed— causing devastation as does any storm.Ironically the strife-ridden Ireland has raised a storm in the poet’s mind too, which made him to ‘walk and pray’ for an hour, because there was great despondency in his mind. • Cradlehood – protective top of the cradle • Coverlid – bedcover, coverlet • Obstacle – obstruction • Gregory’s wood – the wood surrounding Lady Gregory’s house at Coole Park in County Galway, where the poet had passed many a beautiful summer. Lady Gregory was his good friend and patron; she was also his closest neighbour. • The haystack… ind – a wind so violent that it levels down roofs and haystacks • Bred in the Atlantic – this wind originates in the Atlantic Ocean so it is cold and ferocious • Stayed – stopped, checked • Great gloom – mood of depression or despondency about the future of Ireland that is verging on destruction Verse 2: The poet has been pacing and praying for his daughter. The shrill sound of the storm is so intense that it howls over the tower, where the poet lived, passes under the arches and makes the elms scream too, as it cuts through them. The storm outside is reflected in the agitated state of the poet’s mind.He is in a state of excited thoughtfulness. He imagines that the future years have come out of the destructive innocence of the Atlantic Ocean in response to the wild beating of a drum. That is why he has been walking up and down for an hour praying for the safety and protection of his daughter. • Scream – howl. The use of this word is deliberate, it carries the suggestion of hysteria • Tower – The poem is set in the town with its tower where the poet spent his summer • Arches of the bridge – the support pillars of the bridge • Elms – tall trees with broad leaves Flooded stream – the river which runs under the bridge is in full spate because of the storm. The image also evokes that of the Great Flood mentioned in the Bible and suggests the coming of catastrophe to Ireland • Excited reverie – he is lost in thoughts that agitate him • Future years had come – the future, which he perceives as destructive and chaotic, has already arrived • Dancing to a frenzied drum – the picture conjured up is that of a ceremonial tribal war-dance before the warriors launch an attack • Murderous innocence – the destructive power of the sea that is owever unintentional or malicious; a paradox • Dancing….. sea – these two lines refer to what he fears would be the path of the Irish National movement Verse 3: Beauty is a source of joy to the eye and to the soul—for his first wish, the father prays that his daughter be granted beauty. He adds that it should not be a beauty that makes disturbs a stranger. The beauty should not be such as make his daughter vain and narcissistic, completely enamoured of herself and always trying to catch sight of her own beauty in the looking glass.Such a degree of beauty would lead the possessor to conclude that beauty is an achievement in itself and does not need the support of qualities like kindness and the urge to find out more about others, which in turn develop the faculty to do the right thing. This attitude also leads to loneliness as it is not conducive to finding a friend. • Distraught – disturbed and distracted • A sufficient end – an end in itself • Heart-revealing intimacy – a deep knowledge that is based in close acquaintance Verse 4: The poet gives examples of the vain beauties that he has heard of.Helen was the beautiful wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. But her beauty made her so proud that she found her life with Menelaus boring. She eloped with Paris who was a Trojan prince. This elopement led to a prolonged and bloody war between the Greeks and Trojans. Thus her beauty proved a curse to her and others. Another example is the ‘Great Queen’ Aphrodite (Venus), the Greek goddess of love, who was said to have been born out of the foam in the sea and therefore ‘being fatherless’ could have chosen anyone for her husband.Yet being free and perhaps wilful she chose Hephaestus (Vulcan), the lame and deformed blacksmith to the god, as her partner. The poet concludes that the actions of beautiful women are capricious lacking rationality. He thinks that they consume a ‘crazy salad’ – something that takes away their good sense – with their main dish, and thus deliberately upset the state of tranquillity in their lives. Is this where ‘beauty’ leads a woman to? The poet does not want his daughter to possess this kind of beauty. Helen – daughter of the king of Sparta who married Menelaus, who later became the king of Sparta. She was kidnapped by Paris, the prince of Troy, which incident led to the Trojan war that lasted for ten years • The Great Queen – Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love • Being fatherless – Aphrodite was said to have been born out of the foam in the sea so she had no father to guide her. • Spray – sea foam • Bandy-legged smith – Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods. Out of all the men that Aphrodite could have chosen, she chose Hephaestus yet did not remain faithful to him • Man – husband Eat a crazy salad – consume something that makes them go mad • Horn of plenty – In Greek mythology the horn of plenty or Cornucopia is represented as the horn of a goat overflowing with flowers, fruit and corn. It is a symbol of abundance, peace, happiness and prosperity • Undone – lost Verse 5: The poet’s next wish for his daughter is that she should be taught courtesy. Courteous behaviour is important and he feels that love and respect have to be earned, they cannot be given as gifts. If the behaviour is courteous, beauty is not required to win hearts.Many men who had been foolishly infatuated with beauty – like he was with Maud Gonne – became wiser when they met someone charming and courteous. Men who get trapped and enamoured by beauty can yet be captivated by the welcome of a charming person. This is probably a reference to his wife, Georgia Hyde-Lees, whom he married in 1917. • Played the fool – have been foolishly infatuated • For beauty’s very self – for someone beautiful, like Maud Gonne • Roved – wandered aimlessly • Glad kindness – welcoming courtesy • Cannot take his eyes – is fascinated, captivated by itVerse 6: After making it clear of what he does not want his daughter to become, Yeats proceeds to spell out what he desires in her. The poet wishes that his daughter to prosper like a tree that is not showy in a garden, but that is hidden from public gaze. The word ‘hidden’ conveys the importance of humbleness. He wishes that all her thoughts should be cheerful like the song of a linnet. The tree is a symbol of steadfastness and the songbird (linnet) that settles on its branches a symbol of selfless service or giving.His daughter should contribute freely and generously to the world. He would not like her to get involved in a competition except for the sake of fun. He would not like her to cause a quarrel except in jest. He wishes her to live like a green laurel tree permanently rooted, in tradition and honour, in one dear place, that is Ireland. • Flourishing – prospering, blossoming • Hidden tree – a symbol of humility and steadfastness • Linnet – a common brown or gray bird that is a beautiful songbird • Dispensing round – giving freely as gifts Magnanimities of sound – the profuse strains of soul-delighting music poured out by the linnets • In merriment – as a joke, in fun • Begin a chase – give a toast • Green laurel – an evergreen, the laurel is a symbol of the triumph of humanity as represented by Christ • Rooted – deeply bound in tradition • One dear perpetual place – in a permanent home – Ireland perhaps? Verse 7: The poet looks into his own mind and heart and finds, because such have been the experiences of his life, and such was the beauty he loved, that his creative springs have become empty, the revolutionary movement has left his mind exhausted.But he has learnt from life that one should not choke oneself with hatred. Hatred, he thinks, is the chief of all evils, the fountainhead. He is sure that nothing can shake the composure of a mind that is devoid of hatred. If a man has no hatred towards anyone, no harm can come to him from the storms of life. • Mind – soul • Minds – people • Prosper but little – do not grow in happiness • To be choked with hate – to be filled completely with feelings of hatred • Of all evil chances chief – the most evil instance • Assault…leaf – this is a metaphor.Just as the innocent linnet cannot be blown off the leaf that she clings to by the strong force of the wind, the attacks and blows of misfortune cannot upset the mental equilibrium of a mind that is free from hatred. Verse 8: Of the different hatreds he finds intellectual hatred or bigotry to be the worst. So he wishes that his daughter should abstain from this curse. He speaks from his own experience. He had seen the loveliest woman (Maud Gonne) who was born in an aristocratic family, lose all her advantages because of her strong opinions and hatred and became a mere windbag.On account of her strong intellectual political opinions she sacrificed all her good fortune of birth and breeding and became an angry agitator. • intellectual hatred – bigotry • let her think opinions are accursed – let his daughter consider strong opinions to be a curse • the loveliest woman – Maud Gonne • born out of the mouth of Plenty’s horn – born privileged into a wealthy aristocratic family, blessed with all good fortune, having all advantages • opinionated mind – strong views and headstrong ways • barter – exchange • quiet – calm • understood – appreciated old bellows – instrument used for blowing air into or through something; its most common uses are to make a fire burn better or to make a church organ produce sound • Barter….. angry wind – she will sacrifice all her happiness and good fortune that are appreciated by serene minds for angry and loud airing of her strong views Verse 9: The poet says that if a human being drives out all hatred from his mind, he will recover his original, basic innocence. Radical innocence symbolises the depth of one’s roots. Yeats’ roots were unmistakably Irish and he possibly wants his daughter to preserve that.He will realize that the soul has in itself the seeds of all joy and all misery that one meets in life. A soul free from all hatred expresses God’s own will in expressing his own will. The poet’s daughter, by getting rid of all hatred, can lead a happy life, no matter what people’s attitude towards her might be, and what hostile opinion they might have about her. On the strength of innate goodness he is sure that his daughter can brave every scowl ‘every windy quarter howl’. • that – what hatred leads to • driven hence – chased out, cleansed • recovers – gets back radical innocence – a purity that is deeply rooted • learns at last….. Heaven’s will – the soul realises that it is the source of its own happiness; it can soothe itself or create its own fears; but in expressing its wishes it is actually reflecting the wishes of God • scowl – frown, be ill-tempered • every windy quarter howl – protests come loudly from all sides • every bellows burst – when misfortune blows in Verse 10: Amusing yet touching is the last stanza of the poem A Prayer for My Daughter. A father of a few months’ old baby already dreams of the kind of bridegroom his daughter should get.The poet prays that his daughter is married to a man whose family believes in custom and ceremony. Custom and ceremony bring innocence and beauty whereas arrogance and hatred bring conflict and suffering. Wherever there is ceremony, there is prosperity. Wherever custom, courtesy and etiquette are observed, there is peace and plenty. The bridegroom must take his daughter to a home where tradition and ceremony dwell—a traditional way of life in which ritual (ceremony) has a normal place. Arrogance and hatred ‘are products of a valueless life’, like thoroughfares—open at both ends—harmful whichever way you approached them.The poet possibly wants his daughter’s bridegroom to keep clear of such negative values. Yeats believes that aristocracy is one form of preserving culture. Custom and ceremony produce natural attributes—a refined person. To such values, he wants his daughter to be wedded. ‘Ceremony’s the name for the rich born’—an aristocratic disdain for commoners can be sensed in the poet. ‘Rich’ could also connote a wealth of character, of poise, of elegance and courtesy. It should be preserved—by his daughter, by everyone like the evergreen laurel. all’s accustomed, ceremonious – full of traditional rituals and courtesies • wares – goods • peddled – hawked • thoroughfares – open streets • peddled… thoroughfares – sold on the open streets to anyone who passes by, therefore cheap • Ceremony’s… rich horn – the culture of courtesies is synonymous for the state of happiness and prosperity • custom…. tree – tradition stands for the evergreen and permanent roots of honour Critical Appreciation A Prayer for My Daughter was written in 1919 soon after The Second Coming with which it has a thematic connection.In The Second Coming Yeats had predicted a terrible future for mankind with the incarnation of the beast who would cast his shadow over the history of the world for next two thousand years. This poem is taken as a sequel to The Second Coming. The prayer for his daughter beyond its personal scope, is a prayer for the evolution of a culture and human society based on values of decency and courtesy, magnanimity, innocence and ceremony. It is a prayer for the whole world. When his daughter Anne Butler was born, naturally Yeats’ thoughts turned towards her.Georgie had cast her astrological horoscope and predicted that the child would be famous and beautiful. Yeats knew that excessive beauty had brought in its wake suffering and tragedy, as in the case of Helen of Troy and Maud Gonne. With such experience the poet articulates his prayer which describes the ideal life that he hopes his daughter will live. The aspirations of the father, therefore, centre on evolution of a culture and society based on the values of courtesy, innocence, ceremony typified by the metaphors of the horn of plenty and the spreading Laurel tree.The poem powerfully articulates Yeats’ aversion to money-grubbing philistinism, middle class ostentation and vulgarity, his romantic longing for the past and his love for an aristocratic civilization. The poem is a fine illustration of a typically Yeatsian situation in which from a specific, personal issue rooted in a particular time and place, the poet explores several themes which have a much wider relevance significance. The poet’s use of a form – the monologue of a mind in excited reverie’ – is distinctly his own. The mind confronts, explores and finally resolves some crisis or conflict.The poem begins with the burden of a personal occasion but concludes with a resolving generalization. By way of personal and autobiographical allusions which point to a living and real world pressing upon the consciousness, the poet’s imagination transcends the limits of space and time: the present moment participates in the timelessness of myth, the personal is seen to participate in some larger impersonal and ceremonial pattern of events so that the allusions themselves prepare for the enlarged conclusion of the poem. The setting is completely detailed: the noise and movement of the wind, the sleeping child in the cradle, the pacing father.The storm in the physical world is paralleled by the inner commotion in the poet’s mind. The objective scene expands, takes on new meanings under the impress of the man’s excited reverie, the force of his symbolizing imagination. The real storm becomes symbolic of the intangible storm of time, now the wind not only levels the hay-stacks but screams and dances out of a murderous’ source. So the real subject of the poem is not the invocation of the safety for the child, but the sense of the crisis itself, which gradually within the movement- meditation will find resolution.The violence of the storm so disturbing to the father, does not wake the child who ‘sleeps on’, ignorant of the threatening violence but vulnerable to it. The poet is very worried to see everybody dancing to a ‘frenzied drum’ and the roof of human civilization crumbling and an antithetical civilization based on cruelty, greed and selfishness is about to be ushered in. The poet’s sense of his daughter’s vulnerability to time prompts his prayer for the protecting gifts he would have her carry into life. Yeats’ first prayer is for beauty but this beauty must be tinged with compassion.Yeats discards beauty as that of Maud Gonne and of Helen of Troy because excessive beauty makes a woman incapable of compassion. Again, he thinks of capriciousness with which such women choose their husbands: Maud Gonne’s rejection of the poet and her marriage to Major John MacBride ended in separation; Helen was married to King Menelaus of Sparta (according to Greek Mythology) but was afterwards abducted by Prince Paris of Troy and the Trojan War was fought for her recovery; the beautiful Aphrodite married Hephaestus, the crippled blacksmith of gods, yet she was unfaithful to him.Without compassion, no intimate human relationship is possible. Hence, these famous love-matches have been casually dismissed with the observation that “fine women eat/ A crazy salad with their meat/ Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone. ” The Horn of Plenty is a symbol for the earth’s bounty and Yeats uses it as a symbol not merely of prosperity but of the good life characterized by order elegance. The ‘loveliest women’ have undone the Horn of Plenty. Yeats wants that his daughter’s life must be characterized by this Horn of Plenty.The second gift sought for the daughter is courtesy. By courtesy Yeats implies much more than good manners. He means a fine delicacy and sensitivity to others of which good manners are the external expression. The poet’s aspirations for his daughter centre on the images of the flourishing hidden tree, the linnet and the green laurel which are metaphors of the blessedness and harmony of life. According to F. A. C. Wilson the tree symbolizes Unity of Being. Yeats asks that his daughter may become ‘a living image of the Tree of Life’.These images of the cornucopia and the laurel tree represent Yeats’ ideal womanhood specifically and of society at large. But those ‘loveliest women’ who bartered the Horn of Plenty made a grotesque parody of ideal womanhood. The laurel tree image is intended to suggest the joy, natural spontaneity and grace of the young girl. But the poet exploring the image attaches more importance to its rootedness so that the tree becomes the symbol of stability against the menacing, destructive nature of he storm, so that the safety of the child against the destroying time can be guaranteed. The mind which is free from hatred can face the storms and misfortunes of the world. Therefore, the third gift sought for the daughter is the cultivation of natural gladness, innocence and purity which can bring happiness and peace. According to the poet intellectual hatred is the worst of all. Maud Gonne- a paragon of beauty wasted her aristocratic traditions in political arguments. If hatred is replaced by innocence and purity it can bring joy and consolation to the individual.It will give his daughter an inner peace which cannot be disturbed by misfortune, agitation or opposition. “The soul recovers radical innocence/ And learns at last that it is self-delighting/ self- appearing, self-affrighting,/ And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will. ” The radical innocence :- the rooted innocence of the laurel tree insures stability against the ‘angry wind’ of destruction. Finally the poet wishes that his daughter may grow up and get married in an aristocratic family which observes traditional manners and courtesies.The conclusion of the poem throws light on Yeats’ ideal marital life for his daughter and his preference for ‘aristocratic values’ and his ideal of society, a preference for which he has been often and wrongfully maligned. ‘Custom’ and ‘Ceremony’ celebrated here as the source personal as well as social stability are seen not as artificial structures imposed on natural impulse and inhibiting it, but as natural gifts in themselves, being the enduring forms men give to their finest natural instinct: kindness, joy, the impulse to create and preserve life.Yeats attaches great importance to individual and social values, refined and passed on from generation to generation. The focal point of his thinking is the aristocratic ideal personified by Lady Gregory. His own experiences with Irish masses had sadly disillusioned him. However he had received sympathy – that of Lady Gregory. The resolution of the poem is possible because the poet’s meditation has led him to re-assess and reconfirm those values upon which he feels life should be founded. The prayer is a means by which he returns to his own roots and declares them.