Explain the poem "No Second Troy" by W.B Yeats.

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Payal Khullar | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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No Second Troyby William Butler Yeats

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late

Yeats had fallen in love with Maud Gonne. But she refused Yeats proposal of marriage several times. This unrequited love caused Yeats lot of pain and misery throughout his life.

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
 

This poem was written when Ireland was fighting against England for independence. Yeats believed that Maud’s revolutionary ardour and strong Republicanism was teaching common, ignorant Irishmen violence and hatred. She destroyed their happiness and peace. Yeats held that before embarking upon this war for independence, Irishmen need to have a self-identity, courage and spiritual unity. Maud was accused to be responsible for Irish turmoil. Yeats never wanted Maud to jump into politics and Nationalists war. He asks if it were possible for her to stop all this and be peaceful.

 

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?

Yeats believes that Maud was not representative of her age. Her leadership skills, stern principles, fierce beauty, intense commitment, and unparalleled bravery reminded him of Aristocratic ideals. Her heroic mask was at odds with the modern sensibility. Her beauty is being compared to a tightened bow which highlights grace as well as tension and taut.

 

Why, what could she have done being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

In ancient Greek mythology, a place called Troy was devastated by the Greeks in the Trojan War after Helen, the wife of king Menelaus (Sparta, Greek) ran away with Paris, the prince of Troy. Apparently, it was Helen, the most beautiful woman of Greece, who was blamed to be responsible for the destruction of Troy.

Yeats tries to create a parallel between Helen of Troy and Maud Gonne as well as between the Trojan War and the anti-British, revolutionary activities of Irishmen. Like Helen, he blames Maud for filling Irishmen with hatred and violence, and causing bloodshed and destruction.

 

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