The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

William Butler Yeats’s poem “No Second Troy” is composed of four sentences, each of them a question, and is shaped into twelve lines of iambic pentameter. The poem is a typical lyric in that it expresses the poet’s personal feelings about his love, and it remains focused on a single issue. The poet suggests through his questions that he should not blame his love for filling his life with misery because she is unable to find a proper outlet for her talents in the Ireland of her day.

The first question Yeats asks is actually made up of three parts, one entirely personal, the others more political. He asks why he should blame this woman for filling his life with misery, teaching violence to the ignorant, or encouraging class conflict. By linking these three, Yeats equates to some degree his own personal misery with what he considers to be social misery: political violence, especially when it is involved in pitting one class (the working class in this case) against another (the aristocratic class).

Once the poet establishes the harm this woman has done and exonerates her for that, he describes the woman herself and contrasts her with her milieu. He clearly states that she could not be peaceful, that she had to do violence to him or encourage violence in others, because her mind, her body, and her soul were not in harmony with her world. Her mind is noble; Yeats suggests that others in the society are not. Her beauty is not something common...

(The entire section is 426 words.)