William Butler Yeats – No Second Troy – Poetry Lecture and Analysis by Dr. Andrew Barker


Now, to understand ‘No Second Troy’,
there are four areas you need to be aware of that are external to the poem. The first of these is Troy itself,
what it is. The second is the Irish political situation
around the time that the poem was written, which was 1912. The third is Yeats’ relationship to
a woman called Maud Gonne. And the fourth is Yeats’ relationship to
the Irish people and home rule for Ireland, independence for Ireland from England. Now, the way I’ll teach these to you,
I’ll read the poem through first, I’ll then explain all four
of these areas. I’ll then look at the poem’s form,
the way Yeats puts across what he wants to say in the poem. So this is the first read through
of Yeats’ ‘No Second Troy’. Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great. Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern? Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn? So that’s the poem. Now, let’s look at those four areas you need
to understand to appreciate this poem. The first, Troy. Now, Troy is an area in ancient Greece
where a famous war was fought. Many of us have heard of it due to
the wooden horse of Troy’s story. The war starts because of a woman called Helen of Sparta,
the most beautiful woman of her age, who is married to Menelaus,
the brother of the Greek King Agamemnon. Helen, Helen of Sparta is taken from
Sparta by the young Trojan prince, Paris. There are different versions of this story;
some would say that Paris abducts and rapes her
and takes her away. Some say that because Paris is
much younger than the older Menelaus, Helen is more than willing to go to Troy
with the younger, more attractive man. The point is, Helen goes to Troy and
Agamemnon, and his brother Menelaus, mount a fleet of a thousand ships
to come and bring her back. A war is fought over this woman. The most beautiful woman of her age,
a war is fought over her. She is the type of woman who can
inspire an army, and Yeats is very interested
in this sort of thing. So that’s Troy. The second thing we need to know is
the Irish political situation at the time the poem was written,
which was 1912. In 1912, Ireland, the island of Ireland,
is a part of Britain in the same way that Wales and Scotland are today. I’ll try to relate this to you in the most
uncontroversial way that I can, but it seems fair to say that
the people of Ireland mind more being ruled from Westminister,
being ruled from London, than the people of Scotland might,
or the people of Wales might because Ireland itself is an independent land mass
in a way that Scotland and Wales are not. So because Ireland is an independent island,
there is a lot of call for Irish independence; for Ireland to have
its own parliament. This happens in 1921, after a revolution that
takes place in Ireland, out of Dublin. The relevance to this is that
at the time when this poem is written, the revolution which is going to
oust the British from Ireland has not yet taken place. It doesn’t take place until
4 years after this poem is written. The third thing you need to know is
Yeats’ relationship to a woman called Maud Gonne. And this is a great story. Maud Gonne is the love of Yeats’ life.
He meets her when he is in his early twenties. And he is a famous Irish poet,
he’s just written ‘The Wanderings of Oison’ and Maud Gonne comes into his life,
and he says ‘the troubling of my life started’. He sees her and in her,
he sees the woman that he wants to be his companion through his life. She is everything he wants in a woman.
She is sophisticated, she is passionated, she is an Irish nationalist,
she’s the type of woman who is going to inspire him
to greater things. She is a goddess. There’s nothing unusual in this. A lot of poets love the idea of a muse,
and they select a woman to be their muse, or women to be their muse,
and from this they get the work that they’re going to present
to the public. They get the poems from the woman
they have selected as their muse. Maud Gonne was
slightly different in this. She rejected Yeats
time and time again. He was to propose to her five or six times
over a period of 30 to 40 years and each time,
she rejects him. The last time that Yeats proposes to her,
she rejects him, and Yeats proposes to her daughter,
Iseult Gonne, who also rejects him. When Yeats first meets her,
he sees her as the virginal, beautiful,
goddess type woman. And he is distraught to the point of
a nervous breakdown some ten years later, to find that she is the mistress of
a very right-wing French politician and has had a daughter
by her, Iseult. Some time later, Maud Gonne marries
a man who at the time was an Irish military hero,
a man called John MacBride, who Yeats was to call a
‘drunken, vein, glorious, lout’. Yeats hated him. Maud Gonne was-
to say of her relationship to Yeats, she has this wonderful line
whereby she says that, ‘the world will thank me, Willy,
for continually rejecting you, because-‘ I’m paraphrasing what she says here but,
basically Maud Gonne’s statement to Yeats on her continually turning him down
and breaking his heart time and time again is, ‘the world will thank me for this,
because through me doing this,’ ‘you will get more
and more beautiful poems.’ And she was right here –
he did. Through having this woman
continually break his heart, Yeats gives us poems like,
‘Words’, which is a wonderful one on his belief that he only became the poet
that he became in order to express himself to her,
and if she wasn’t there, he wouldn’t have been able to become
William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet. He might have had a better life,
he considers, but he wouldn’t have been
the person he became. He gave the world,
or Yeats’ relationship with Maud Gonne gives the world poems like,
‘He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven’, which is a short one,
so I’ll recite that for you now. ‘He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven’ goes: Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light, Meaning, if I had a cloth which had all the
most beautiful colours in the heavens on it. Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. And what a beautiful
last line that is. I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. Yeats must have been the only man in history
to have said that to a woman, and not profited by it. So there’s Yeats’ relationship to Maud Gonne,
the woman to whom this poem is addressed. The woman he has loved all his life,
who has continually broken his heart. And incidentally,
we can question the poet’s sincerity in complaining about the woman
he has selected to break his heart actually breaking his heart
all we like. But it is undeniable that Maud Gonne
put Yeats through a lot of misery. The fourth thing, the fourth thing
we need to be aware of here is Yeats’ relationship to
home rule for Ireland. For Maud Gonne was a
near fanatical Irish revolutionary. She believed passionately
that the English did not belong in Ireland and was willing to do anything
to get them out. Yeats wasn’t as keen
on the idea as she was. He was to become an
Irish senator in the Irish free state. But at the time that
this poem was written, 1912, he is to say of his relationship
to the English, ‘my hatred [of the English]
is tempered by my love, and my love
is tempered by my hatred’. Ok. With all that in mind,
that should give you some backdrop as to what is going on
in this poem. So we’ll now do the line-by-line read through,
whereby I will explain what Yeats says in this poem
in the simplest English I can. Why should I blame her
that she filled my days with misery He’s addressing Maud Gonne here,
and this is quite simple. Why should I blame her
that she filled my days with misery ‘Why should I blame her
that she messed my life up?’ There’s Yeats’ days as a cup,
Maud Gonne fills up his days with misery. Very simple stuff. Or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways, Well, that’s quite easy. ‘Ignorant men’ means stupid men,
and ‘violent ways’ means to be violent. I would point out here that this is
violence in a political connotation. This is violence against the British.
Or against the British colonial rule in Ireland. So why should I blame her
that she has recently, ‘of late’, taught stupid people
to be violent? Or hurled the little streets upon the great.
Had they but courage equal to desire? Hurled the little streets upon the great. I see two meanings for that.
One is, to create a class war. ‘The little streets’ being
the little streets of Dublin, the poorer streets of Dublin, against the great streets of Dublin,
the more important streets of Dublin. The line could mean,
‘why should I blame her that she has attempted to
create a class war?’ There’s a definite reading there,
a definite truth to that reading. The way I prefer to read that line
is that Yeats is talking about the little streets as the streets of Dublin. I should phrase that actually as,
Yeats is talking about, for the purposes of this poem,
the little streets as the streets of Dublin, and the great streets
as the streets of Troy. And what Maud Gonne
will do is pick up- if you imagine this as the map of Dublin,
and this as the map of Troy, she will pick up the little streets of Dublin
and hurl them upon the great streets of Troy. Meaning that, she will make Dublin
into the stuff of legend. James Joyce hasn’t written ‘Ulysses’
at the point when this poem comes out. Dublin is not quite the stuff of legend
that it is later to become. So, she would
‘hurl the little streets upon the great’ ‘had they but courage equal to desire?’ So the line ‘hurl the little streets upon the great’
either means create, or instigate a class war in Dublin; meaning ‘hurl the little streets
against the great people of Dublin’, of which Yeats
considered himself, incidentally. Or create a legend by
hurling the map of Dublin onto the legend of Troy,
turning Dublin into another Troy. Had they but courage equal to desire,
of course. And ‘they’, in this sentence,
is the people of Dublin, the ignorant men to whom Maud Gonne is
attempting to teach these violent ways. Great line, incidentally. Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
[匽 Had they but courage equal to desire? You can use that in
a lot of other contexts. It would happen,
had they but courage equal to desire. ‘If they had the bravery to do
what they actually want to do.’ So I’ll briefly read that
opening question of the poem through. Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great. Had they but courage equal to desire? Now the poem ‘No Second Troy’
has four questions. That’s the first of them. The second is, What could have made her peaceful with a mind
that nobleness made simple as a fire, [匽 a kind that is not natural in an age like this So, what would have made her peaceful?
What could have calmed her down? What would have made her happy?
With a mind that nobleness made simple as a fire, ‘Simple as a fire’
is a simile. There are two similes in this sentence,
which are both really interesting. ‘As simple as a fire’ and
‘beauty like a tightened bow’. So, Yeats assesses
Maud Gonne and says, What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire Now, I don’t really know if the way Yeats
sees nobleness is the same way as
I see nobleness. Nobleness, let’s try and define it
in a way that both of us might agree on. To him, nobleness I think is
‘elevated moral conduct, right-thinking’. And those seem ok. Whether what Yeats saw as elevated
moral conduct and right-thinking would be the same as what you or I
would see as elevated moral conduct or right-thinking would be
more open to debate. But Maud Gonne’s nobleness
is as simple as a fire. The reason I find fire as a simile
so interesting here, is that fire by its very nature burns.
It destroys. It is one track. It’s as if Yeats is saying that Maud Gonne’s
nobleness made her single-minded, having a one-track mind. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. ‘Simple as a fire’ is something that
you might say to someone who is a fanatic. It’s not something you would
necessarily say to somebody who you thought
deserved your praise. And that is indeed the way that
Yeats is using this simile. With a mind that nobleness
made simple as a fire She has a destructive,
one-track mind. But who can deny that
fires are also quite beautiful? Unless you’re the one
getting burned by them of course. And Maud Gonne of course,
not only has a mind that nobleness has made
simple as a fire, she has beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this, ‘Beauty like a tightened bow.’ Ok. In what way can a
tightened bow be seen as beautiful? I think the answer to this is that
in no real way can a tightened bow be seen as beautiful,
except- in what way is a rose beautiful? ‘She was as beautiful as a rose.’
‘She was as beautiful as a sunset.’ Well, the only way that those things
can be beautiful is that they are good to look at. So do you think that a tightened bow
is good to look at? Just imagine it, you know. I mean, you’ve seen Lord of the Rings.
It does look very cool. ‘Beauty like a tightened bow.’ The trouble with that simile,
or why that simile is so interesting is that a tightened bow by its very nature
has been tightened to fire (shoot). It’s just about to be destructive. It’s also an image out of antiquity. I mean, when Yeats says, beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this, The age is 1912, they didn’t use bows
– tightened or otherwise – for warfare at that time. They used bows in ancient Greece
at the time of Helen of Sparta, later to become
Helen of Troy. ‘Her beauty is like a tightened bow’,
it’s dangerous and it is not natural
in an age like this. So what Yeats is telling us here is that
Maud Gonne is born out of her time. The people of Dublin aren’t ready to-
almost to receive her. That’s slightly overstating the case,
but not too much. Being high and solitary and most stern? Now these attributes of
‘high, and solitary, and most stern’, the way the sentence is constructed,
you could believe that the thing which is high, and solitary, and most stern,
is an age like this. It is the age like this that is
‘high, and solitary, and most stern’. But it’s not,
that doesn’t fit in with the rhetoric of the rest of the poem. The thing which is
‘high, and solitary, and most stern’ is Maud Gonne,
Maud Gonne’s beauty. Now this is a fascinating way to
describe someone’s beauty. Her beauty is
‘high, and solitary, and most stern’. It’s almost as if he’s talking about her
as a dominatrix. Not as a woman that
he is very much in love with. I’ll read that
second question through again. What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire, With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this, Being high and solitary and most stern? And then he gives us
the penultimate question. Why, what could she have done, being what she is? What other options
were open to her? Maud Gonne, being what she is,
which we’ll look at again in a minute, we know she’s
‘high, and solitary, and most stern’, we know she’s so beautiful,
her beauty is like the statues of old, and dangerous. But what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn? Now, what Yeats means in this final question,
was there another Troy for her to burn? is that Dublin is
no second Troy. It is not a place where
heroes are going to be made. It is not a place where
legends are going to form. The people of Dublin are too
stupid, lazy, and cowardly to follow Maud Gonne. They want to,
but they’re just too lazy to do it. They’re too lazy to follow Maud Gonne
and oust the British from Ireland. And if I paraphrase this rather flippantly,
basically what he’s saying is, ‘what else had Maud Gonne
to do with her life, ”because the people of Dublin
weren’t up to the task of’ ‘ousting the British from Ireland,
so she had to content herself’ ‘with messing my life up.’ Now that sounds
very flippant, but, Why should I blame her
that she filled my days with misery Was there another Troy for her to burn? Maud Gonne is a second Helen of Troy,
but the people of Dublin are not up to the task of
being the heroes that she could make them. Now, let’s have a look at the
form that Yeats uses for this poem, and some of the ways that his
arrangement of lines in the poem seeks to influence
the way we read it. And there are some beautiful examples
of Yeats’ form enhancing content in this. The poem itself is what
we call a douzaine. It’s a 12-line Shakespearean sonnet,
mostly in iambic pentameter. If you look at it,
it’s basically the Shakespearean sonnet with the final couplet
at the end removed. But most of it is in iambic pentameter,
except where it’s not. Now where it’s not,
there is an effect created. Now we can either say
that this is an accident of construction, or we can say that it’s deliberately constructed
by Yeats to create certain effects. Let’s see if I can convince you that
where this poem deviates from iambic pentameter, it is done so because Yeats wants to
draw certain attention to what is happening at the point
when it deviates from iambic pentameter. So, the poem starts off with,
Why should I blame her that she filled my days Iambic pentameter. With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways, Now there’s 12 syllables in that line. But as an interesting example
of the way we read iambic pentameter, we know that once we recognize
the form of a sonnet – the sonnet box is what this is constructed in –
we tend to almost try to read it to iambic pentameter. When we sub-vocalize this poem, we hear Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways, Now I know that ‘ignorant’ and ‘violent’
have three syllables in them. But we tend not to hear it
like that when we read it. Or hurled the little streets upon the great.
Had they but courage equal to desire? What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire, For years I said ‘fire’ with two syllables.
It’s ‘fire’, it’s one syllable. With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this, I know you can say ‘na-tu-ral’,
but you say ‘na-tural’ to make it hit
the iambic box. Now, this is where
it gets interesting. The next line begins,
Being high and solitary and most stern? Now I can’t make that
hit iambic pentameter. Because it starts with
a two-syllable gerund, ‘being’. You’ve got to stress
the first syllable, ‘be’ Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is? Was there another Troy for her to burn? So, twice the poem deliberately opts out of
iambic pentamer quite conspicuously, and it’s both times on the same word,
and the word is ‘being’. So what Yeats achieves here is
he draws attention to the word ‘being’, when we read it out loud or when
we sub-vocalize the poem, that word ‘being’ attracts our attention. Why? Well, I think what Yeats is questioning here,
or introducing into the argument, is what we now call the idea of
the nature-nurture argument. Is Maud Gonne like she is because she
has been nurtured that way – she’s like she is
as a result of her upbringing – or was she just born that way,
‘being’ what she is? And whether we believe this or not,
it seems that Yeats believes that she was just born like that.
She was born as a reincarnation of Helen of Troy. She was born to be this fantastic person
who could lead the Irish people. Maud Gonne herself often saw herself
as, like an Irish Joan of Arc. ‘Being what she is,
what else could she have done?’ The people of Ireland weren’t up to
the job of following her, so she’s messed my life up instead. And note how much attention
Yeats draws to himself here. The four questions which he asks
are all about what Maud Gonne could have done with her life,
and what she has done is set upon his happiness. There’s another interesting example,
one more I’d draw your attention to here is the use of the word ‘why’
in the last but one line of the poem. Why, what could she have done, being what she is? And when we hear a ‘why’,
don’t we hear it with a sort of shrug? As if Yeats is saying,
why, what could she have done, being what she is? So he is resigned to the fact that
this has been and is going to be Maud Gonne’s affect on his life. I mean, I don’t think he’s happy about it,
you can still be sad about something and resigned to it
at the same time. But I hear a nice shrug in that
why, what could she have done, being what she is? And I think Yeats
expects me to hear that. I don’t think it’s beyond the
realms of talent for a poet who pays as much attention to what he is writing
as William Butler Yeats does, to be able to
create these effects. Yeats incidentally would often
write his poems out in prose first, and then find a way to inveigle
what he had written into verse. It’s quite an interesting way of
constructing a poem, I think. You know exactly what
you want to say before you’ve actually tried to
worry it into poetry. If you were to dislike this poem,
particularly if you were Irish, and you’ve never
come across it before, you wouldn’t be the first person
to dislike it for what it says about the Irish people
pre-Easter 1916 uprising. Yeats is very much caught unawares
by the actual uprising of Easter 1916. As this poem shows us,
he has very little respect for the actual working people of Ireland,
and one of the problems we have to say about the morality of the poem –
and this is not to impinge it in any way as a piece of art or
wonderful piece of love poetry – but don’t we find that
the poem itself takes no account of the actual human consequences
to the actual people of Dublin of doing what Yeats
would have them do. In other words,
to paraphrase this rather flippantly, because the people of Dublin have not
hurled themselves on British bayonets for the deification of my girlfriend,
she’s had to be content with messing my life up. Now, as flippant as that sounds,
that’s not that far removed from what the poem is saying. When the people of Dublin did do
exactly this, Yeats was confused. And he captured this confusion
in a poem written shortly after the uprising of Easter 1916
called ‘Easter 1916’. I’ll read the opening stanza of ‘Easter 1916’
to you because it’s a very interesting one to contrast with ‘No Second Troy’,
the poem written before the uprising of 1916. To understand this poem you need to
know that ‘motley’ is what clowns wear. It’s that type of uniform that clowns used to have,
that criss-cross in green. ‘Easter 1916′ begins: I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses. I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words, Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words, And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe To please a companion
Around the fire at the club, Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn: All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born. And once again,
what a fabulous last line that is. All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born. They have become heroes,
they have transcended the ordinary. A terrible beauty is born. Because this is what Yeats loves. Anything that can rise above the
ordinary, everyday life, and turn life into the stuff of legend,
the stuff of myth. The stuff which an artist is
worthy of giving his attentions to. Dublin becomes a second Troy.
Maud Gonne becomes Helen of Troy. But in 1912,
this was not to be. Or Yeats thought
this was not coming. Ok. I’ll read the poem through
one more time for you. So this is William Butler Yeats’
‘No Second Troy’. Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great. Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern? Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn? Thank you. I am Dr. Andrew Barker, that was the Mycroft Online Lecture on
William Butler Yeats’ No Second Troy.

37 thoughts on “William Butler Yeats – No Second Troy – Poetry Lecture and Analysis by Dr. Andrew Barker

  1. This video gives tremendous context and insight into this poem! Really helpful stuff. 

  2. I missed my lectures in college. This helped me a lot while preparing for my exams. Thank you so much, Sir!

  3. I have an essay due on this poem for uni and this analysis has helped me greatly! Very well explained and wonderful analysis. Thank you! 🙂

  4. The way I see this poem is that it was a love/hate poem that he wrote to or about Maud Gonne. It had only a little bit that dealt with the whole Irish Independence. It is only because of the fact that Maud was a fanatic and cared more about the Irish Independence that people would critized Yates for blaming the Irish that because of the Irish people did not fight for their independence the way Yates would have them do, Maud had nothing better to do than to ruin his life. But in the poem, Yates was only expressing his sadness that he loved her so much but she only brought nothing but misery to his life. I think the poet should not be held accountable for what he had written in his or her poems/writings. They generally linked things to their ideas whther or not it was the case or not.

    I also like they way he used fire and the beauty of a tightened bow to describe Maud. They are cool stuff but they are also dangerous. It is as if he was teling us that she was like a femme fatale that had the prettiest face on earth but was also full of danger. He even describe her as the Helen of Sparta that brought two countries to war. It is like he was using the poem as an outcry for his sadness. When I read the line "why, what could she have done, being what she was", the "why" in the sentence was a bit odd. It was as if he said it with bitter. "Why" and then he did a bitter laugh. He looked at the sky and exclaimed "what could she have done'. He then felt a bit anger in "being what she was". It was as if he was desperated but ther was nnothing he could do.

    I want to know more about the sub-vocalize of the iambic pentameter. How does it work? Would you still need the 10 syllables or not because you can say it quicker for some words?

  5. I could see how Yeats loved and almost respect/admire Maud Gonne. Because of the political backdrop, it is hard to say that the poem is just about a man describing a woman whom he's madly in love with. Yeats uses fire and tightened bow to describe her. Even though it is not commonly used complimenting words for women, I think it makes sense in 2 ways.
    First one is that fire and tightened bow are both destructive and go only for one-track. As we already heard the background of Maud Gonne, I think fire and tightened bow describe her well in a sense that she is straightforward and converts her idea right into her action in contrast with other ignorant Irish people. As fire burns and lights in the dark, she tries to enlighten stupid people.
    Second way that I would interpret is merely praising her personality/characteristics. Because she broke his heart time and time again and she was keep turning down Yeats' proposal, he would have a feeling of love-hate. Even though he hates the fact that she rejects him, he admits and describe her behavior as 'fire/tightened bow' which symbolize Maud who destroys him but at the same time her strong, high, and lofty attitude. That's why he says the 'beauty like a tightened bow'. He resents and sort of blame her showing the sadness asking the last question. It sounds like reproaching her for destroying him.

  6. For me I see it as a poem about Irish Independence, especially when this was during Irish literary revival where nationalism was reawakening among the Irish. To me the "she" will be Ireland, and the line "or hurled the little streets upon the great", it means the commonwealth of Dublin against the Great British Empire. Also I'm not sure exactly which month this was written, but in 1910 it was Redmond of the INP that supported Asquith in exchange of Home Rule. Now although Yeats supported Home Rule, there are several problems: One, at that time there was only small chances it could be passed (which it didn't), and this may relate to "courage equal to desire"; Two, this might be against his disciplines as a protestant and such caused a conflict among himself, which was why he had the connotation between winning "her" over and destruction/violence.

  7. This peom is talk about auther's idea which he thinks she is a beautiful women, and she dosen't need join the  pointless battle. I am interested in the word "troy", why the auther use "no second Troy" to be the title, i think that auther use troy have two kinds of meaning. one is to say that troy have been described only because they were trapped, in other worlds, with out miracle, the revolution they had started would fail! And second meaning is that he thinks she only could be the reason  of the revolution can not be the who fight for the revolution. This peom include the auther's love and grudge.

  8. Yeats and Gonne had diametrically opposed views on love and politics: He was conservative about love and politics, hence his several proposals to (and poems about) her and his support for Home Rule over Irish independence; whereas she was unconventional about love and a political radical, hence her refusals to his proposals, her affairs with other men, and her advocacy for Irish independence. And yet the lives of these two people collided the moment he saw her. We do not and would not know whether his love for her was stemming from/ fuelled by these differences, but we know he loved her and they had these differences, and that’s where ‘the troubling of my (his) life began.’ With this knowledge in mind, I’ve come to see this poem as Yeats’s reflection on his tormented relationship with Gonne.

    I am inclined to think that Yeats in a sense considered himself no different to those ‘ignorant men’ who were ‘taught… the most violent ways’. Surely he was not ‘ignorant’ – blind – to the dangers of Gonne’s charm, but such awareness hadn’t stopped him from loving her anyway. He was like those ignorant men incited by Gonne’s words, like Paris attracted to Helen, and like particles falling into a black hole – it’s so irresistible and almost inevitable that he had just as much to ‘blame’ for his ‘misery’ as Gonne.

    Such realisation could be evidenced by the fact that the poem is essentially formed by four rhetorical questions, which suggests a sense of ‘self-evidentness’ in the poem. I tend to see the second last line of the poem as the perfect example to show how Yeats see himself as partly, if not equally, responsible for developing this troubled relationship with Gonne. Another word for the question word ‘why’, I think, is ‘surely’, which hints that the question following it – ‘what could she have done, being what she is?’ – is somehow self-explanatory – that he knows the answer before asking the question: She is who she is, and her doings simply reflect who she is. And so the problem is in fact in him: He blames her for leading the independence movement, to potentially ‘burn… another Troy’; but at the same time he knows he’s also to blame for loving her, which had 'filled his days with misery’. In a sense I think the pronoun ‘she’ in the line could be replaced with a ‘he’ to reflect his position in the relationship.

    In the poem Yeats likened Gonne to Helen of Troy – the most beautiful woman of her age and an infamous femme fatale. And I think such comparison reflects the intricacy of their relationship – one of love and hate, and one driven by obsession and resulted in depression.

  9. The first Troy, of course, was destroyed because of a quarrel over Helen, another politically troublesome beauty from another "age", ancient Greece. “No Second Troy” is a strong call towards peace leaving the violent way of war or destruction. The poem appeals that no beauty like Helen of Troy or to-day’s Maud Gonne will cause the destruction of another beauty like “Troy”.
    Lastly the speaker asks: “Was there another Troy for her to burn?”Because there was no "second Troy" for her to destroy nowadays, so she had to destroy other things, e.g. the happiness of others, the peaceful lives of Irish commoners.

  10. A fire and a tightened bow could mean dangerous and one-tracked, but it could also mean exciting and affective, as a compliment to Maude Gonne. A fire and a tightened bow are pretty cool to look at, they could hurt you if you don't use them right, but if you use them right they are great help.

    Anyway, the story about Troy is not quite romantic to me. 2 armies fighting for a woman… it seems like the responsibility of war is enforced on the women, as if a witch. I don't see how being compared to that could be a compliment for a right minded woman.

  11. I see this poem as a love poem far more than a political one. The whole poem revolves around Gonne. Almost every line of it is to manifest how intelligent, brave and beautiful she is. I also see how obsessed Yeats is obsessed to Gonne as he describes her beauty through violent images as if she is something that he cannot touch; but he cannot resist to approach her again and again.

  12. Wow!!! It looks as if you actually feel , live the poem! Thanks for explaining all the history and romance behind it. I don't understand why Maude would refuse Yeats? She was married to Ireland ???

  13. Ya know it's generally considered that the 7th historical Troy was Homer's Troy.

  14. could you please do an analysis about William Butler Yeats "an Irish airman foresees his death"

  15. I really like the poems written by W.B. Yeats. He's a great poet. It would be great if you could also talk about The Second Coming which is my all time favourite.

  16. But there is another accountable thing i noticed this gentleman resembles to yeats image .

  17. Enjoyed this perceptive lecture, especially because I've written a play about Yeats and Maud Gonne called A Stubborn Passion. which dramatizes Yeats' obsession with Maud, and her obsession with rousing the Irish to revolution against the hated English. It's been done in Ireland and in Canada … but Dr. Barker, please correct your mispronunciation of Menelaus, Iseult and slight misquoting in your recap reading of the poem. Anne Tait, Toronto, Canada

  18. Damned if Im going back to school to hear someone LECTURE on Yeats

  19. "Yeats must have been the only man in history to have said that to a woman and not profited by it"

  20. Do you really think one selects a muse? Have you no magick in your soul? Ther rejection is all part of the musing.

  21. In 1912 Ireland was coming close to civil war over proposed home rule and the covenant that Carson was proposing.

  22. I commend but I don't agree. Symbolism is the magic that Yeats has so masterfully commanded in these esoteric verses… I fear that people''s freely given opinion, however well meant, are like thick coats of varnish over Yeats' pristine craftsmanship.
    Please read it again and let the Symbols illuminate and mystify the inner recesses of your mind

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