Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Background details and bibliographic information
A Prayer for my Daughter
Author: William Butler Yeats
Electronic edition compiled and proof-read by Beatrix Färber
Funded by School of History, University College, Cork
1. First draft.
Extent of text:
CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork
College Road, Cork, Irelandhttp://www.ucc.ie/celt (2014)
Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: E910001-065
The works by W. B. Yeats are in the public domain. This electronic text is available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of private or academic research and teaching.
This poem was written between February and June 1919 and first published in Poetry in November 1919 (A. Norman Jeffares, p. 244).
Literature (a small selection)
- W. B. Yeats, The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats, consisting of Reveries over childhood and youth, The trembling of the veil, and Dramatis personae (New York 1938).
- Richard Ellmann, Yeats: The Man and the Masks. Corrected edition with a new preface (Oxford 1979). [First published New York 1948; reprinted London 1961.]
- Peter Allt and Russell K. Alspach, The Variorum Edition of the Poems of W.B. Yeats (New York: Macmillan 1957).
- W. B. Yeats, Essays and Introductions (New York: Macmillan 1961).
- W. B. Yeats, Explorations: selected by Mrs W. B. Yeats (London/New York: Macmillan 1962).
- Richard Ellmann, The Identity of Yeats (New York 1964).
- A. Norman Jeffares, A New Commentary on the Poems of W.B. Yeats (Stanford 1984).
- A general bibliography is available online at the official web site of the Nobel Prize. See: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1923/yeats-bibl.html
The edition used in the digital edition
- William Butler Yeats A Prayer for my Daughter in , Ed. Richard J. Finneran The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats. Macmillan Press, London, (1991) pages 190192
CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts
The whole poem.
The text has been proof-read twice.
The electronic text represents the edited text.
The editorial practice of the hard-copy editor has been retained.
div0= the individual poem, stanzas are marked lg.
Names of persons (given names), and places are not tagged. Terms for cultural and social roles are not tagged.
Use of language
Language: [EN] The poem is in English.
Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: E910001-065
A Prayer for my Daughter: Author: William Butler Yeats
- Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory's wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind.
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.
- I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And-under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
- May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.
- Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-legged smith for man.
It's certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of plenty is undone.
- In courtesy I'd have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty's very self, has charm made wisc.
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.
- May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.
- My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there's no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.
- An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of plenty's horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?
- Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven's will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.
- And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all's accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony's a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.