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No Second Troy by W.B. Yeats Analysis


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About the poet

About the poet

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet, dramatist, writer and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival and became a pillar of the Irish literary establishment who helped to found the Abbey Theatre.


“No Second Troy’ by WB Yeats is a twelve line poem that was written in the memory of poet’s lover Maud Gonne. Maud Gonne was a beautiful Irish revolutionary, who is the subject of many of Yeats’s poems. The poet writes how a devastatingly beautiful woman can be the cause of destruction or war with the reference of Helen from The Iliad. Yeats was in love with Maud Gonne, who had rejected his proposal several times. Gonne was a pioneer in the Irish revolt against British rule, and her command led to destruction and awakening among the Irish people.

The poem opens with a rhetorical question. There are total four questions throughout the poem. The poet is heartbroken because Made had rejected his love for another time. However, he says that he must not blame her for his misery. He must also not blame her for teaching innocent Irish men how to fight violently against the British. The Irish revolution has caused violence in the streets, where people are fighting for their freedom. The poet holds Maud Gonne responsible for instigating the minds of the people with such rebellious thoughts. The poet holds her accountable for hurting his feelings towards her, however he doesn’t blame her for his sadness. However, he does not understand the political agenda of the lady, her motives behind encouraging the countrymen to fight against British colonialism. He feels as if the common man have the desire to throw the Britishers away, but do not have the courage to do it. The poet imagines what it would take to make her a peaceful person. Yeats disliked violence, but he loved the woman. However, she had caused him nothing but heartbreak.

The poet compares her with destruction. Her beauty is compared to a ‘tightened bow’. The words ‘tightened bow’ refers to something heroic and graceful but results in destruction. Her mind is full of nobleness and simplicity. He then says that it is not natural in that era. It is not easy being in such a high position, where she is lonely yet strong. Therefore, Maud possesses characteristics that were seen in Greek tragedies, hence she belonged to another era. In the concluding lines, the poet asks another two questions. Here, the poet relates Maud Gonne to Helen of Troy, from Homer’s Iliad. The poet asks what would she have done by possessing such power, if there was another Troy for her to destroy.

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