Sep 28 • 7M

Prayer for My Daughter

William Butler Yeats, 1919

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Anthony Esolen
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    The poet is awake late at night in a tower overlooking the sea, as a storm rages outside.  It seems that nothing stands as a windbreak between him and that storm.  It’s not that he fears for himself, but his little child, a baby girl, lies in her cradle.  And, he says, a great gloom is in his mind.
     The poet is William Butler Yeats, and the storm he fears is not one that a high pressure system can lift and blow away.  Europe has been ravaged by a terrible war, and it is hardly two months since the armistice, and war likewise is brewing in Ireland, because the Irish are demanding their independence from England.  Yeats is an Irish patriot, and he wants that independence too, but the poet and sage in him knows that blood calls for blood, and beyond Ireland, forces are massing that threaten the very fabric of a decent and human existence.  In another poem, “The Second Coming,” he expresses his fear that some “rough beast, its hour come round at last,” having waited two thousand ye…

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