No Second Troy by William Butler Yeats

The twelve-line poem portrays William Butler Yeats’ rhetoric directed to Maud Gonne regarding her rejections to Yeats’ repeated declaration of love, on the one hand. And on the other, the poet shows us the chaotic side to Gonne, an Irish revolutionary, and her methods in defeating the British rulers.

No Second Troy


Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
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
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?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?

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Analysis of Yeats’ “No Second Troy”

The poem “No Second Troy” begins with a rhetoric question on a personal plane saying that Yates should not blame her. Here, ‘her’ is Maud Gonne, who is one of the principle characters of the poem.

The rhetoric that the poem opens with, is answered in the question itself. Although in the first five lines of the poem we can see that the poet is very unhappy and utterly disappointed by the fact that Maud hasn’t responded to his love, the poet emphasizes on the fact that he should not blame Maud for making him suffer and go through misery.

The poet also states that he should not blame her for teaching the Irish people the despicable methods to attain freedom. The poet is aggravated by the fact that instigates the innocent Irish to propagate violence against the British rulers, which to the poet is a futile attempt.

Here, the poet shows two sides to Maud; where he forgives and lets go of the fact that she stepped over his soul, but also shows how he is at a loss to comprehend her methods to win over the British rulers, instigating the Irish people into making questionable decisions.

The last five lines present the readers with a vivid set of imageries which are not present in the initial five lines of the great poem. To the poet, civilization does not serve the purpose of providing bonfires for heroic and eternal beauty. The sole reason Ireland hasn’t failed is it wasn’t burnt like Troy. The rhetoric control and the complete pattern of images in the poem are illustrated at the very last line.

What makes the poem one of the greatest of all time is how the poet gives a description of how beauty can not only destroy the inner soul but also ruin a country in a critically mythological perspective.

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