To a Child Dancing in The Wind by William Butler Yeats, may anyone analyze the poem, please make attention to the : themes, **rhyme scheme; heroic couplet...,conceit, words, symbolic, and settings...

To a Child Dancing in The Wind by William Butler Yeats, may anyone analyze the poem, please make attention to the : themes, **rhyme scheme; heroic couplet...,conceit, words, symbolic, and settings of the poem .

Expert Answers
Stephen Holliday eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yeats' poem "To a Child Dancing in the Wind," published in 1916, was written in 1912 and marks the first appearance in Yeats' poetry of Iseult Gonne, the daughter of Yeats' great love, Maude Gonne.  The poem, very typical of Yeats in the years preceding the Easter Rebellion of 1916, expresses the tension between the innocence and freedom from care of youth and the dark realities of adult life.

The first five lines--with their alternating rhyme scheme of abab--establish the pure freedom of youth:

Dance there upon the shore;/What need have you to care/For wind or water's roar?/And tumble out your hair/That the salt drops have wet. . . .

The act of dancing itself creates the air of the freedom that characterizes youth, and Yeats makes it clear that the dancer is unaffected by "wind and water's roar," symbols both of nature and of the adult world that looms over the child.  The regular rhyme scheme helps create the sense of order.  The meter is a mix of trochaic (stressed/unstressed syllables) and iambic (unstressed/stressed syllables) trimeter (three pairs of syllables, an unusual meter that Yeats varies through the remainder of the poem.

The tension between the two states of life--youth and adulthood--becomes clear in the fifth through the twelfth lines in which the harsh realities of adult life turn the freedom of youth upside down:

Being young you have not known/The fool's triumph, nor yet/Love lost as soon as won, Nor the best labourer dead/And all the sheaves to bind.

Clearly, Yeats sees the ultimate destruction of childhood joy and carefree existence--a world in which fools succeed, which implies that good, honorable people don not thrive, and honest laborers are tossed aside while their work remains unfinished.  Just as the child's world is falling apart, Yeats mirrors the chaos with meter that becomes increasingly irregular, and rather than regular rhyme scheme, Yeast employs slant (or near) rhyme to enhance the disorder of adult life: instead of alternating cdcd, we have cdce, the e being slant rhyme, which sounds slightly "off" and matches the sense of the lines--growing chaos.  The perfection of regular rhyme is subtly shifted to imperfection, so the rhyme now mirrors the sense of the poem--an imperfect world looms over the child.

The last two lines are eerily similar to the end of Yeats' 1919 poem "The Second Coming,"

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
in which Yeats depicts a new and destructive force about to overwhelm the world.  Even though these poems are separated by several years, clearly Yeats views the fate of the child to be as disastrous as the fate of the world at large:
What need have you to dread/The monstrous crying of wind!
Unfortunately for the dancer in "To a Child," the question Yeats asks is rather a statement about the dancer's fate, which is that the dancer does indeed need to fear the injustice, the imperfect world, represented by the "monstrous crying of wind."  The wind that was once merely a part of nature has now become an agent of destruction, ending the freedom of youth and signalling the death of innocence.
Stephen Holliday eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As I point out in my answer, the rhyme scheme is regular only in the first stanza where we have last words in each line that rhyme as ABAB.  In the second set, we have a rhyme scheme of CDCE (the E being a slant rhyme, that is, close in sound to D but not an exact rhyme).  The use of slant rhyme continues in the third set.  To be clear about rhyme--we look at the last word of each line and compare it with the following line's last word, and if they rhyme perfectly, we say that the rhyme is AA.  If the two words of the first two lines do not rhyme, they are referred to as AB.  If the last word of the third line rhymes with the last word of the first line, the rhyme scheme is ABA, and if the last word of the fourth line rhymes with the last word of the second line, the rhyme is ABAB.  So, if the last words of the first two lines rhyme, they are AA and are therefore a couplet but not necessarily a heroic couplet (see below).

With respect to stanzas--although the groups of lines (ABAB, CDCE, FGFH) are not separated, the groups (ABAB etc.) can be considered stanzas, so we have three stanzas of four lines each.

A heroic couplet consists of two lines of iambic pentameter rhyming AA, BB, CC, etc.  As you can see from the rhyme scheme, there are no heroic couplets in this poem because there are no couplets, and there are no lines of iambic pentameter, that is, five sets of unstressed and stressed syllables.

Enjambment is a poetic technique designed to create tension in the reader because the poet's complete thought runs from one line to the next.  In effect, the reader is propelled in the direction of the next line in order to understand the meaning of the sentence.  As you will notice, Yeats uses enjambment for each set of two lines, except for the first line, which establishes the theme of dancing.  Enjambment itself does not affect the poem's theme, but it does help create structural tension that mirrors the tension between the life of the child (freedom, no cares) and the adult world (loss of love, death, unfinished business).  Enjambment is a structural technique that moves the reader from one line to the next and therefore creates anticipation.

I hope this helps.

| Student

I apprieciate your respond Mr.Stephen Holliday , and these are my main questions ....i will be very glad if you respond them

Does it rhyme as (AABBCDCDEEEE)?

do we have heroic couplet ? yes/no

how does the enjambment affecte the theme ?

srtuctral, do we have 3 stanza(s)?

if so, may you explain the ryhme scheme (if it is EEEE)?

Thank you

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question