No Second Troy Analysis
Yeats, it seems, has little confidence that the level of what they desire- an autonomous Ireland- would be met by an equal level of courage, hence the line: Had they but courage equal to desire. Lines 6 through 10: Yeats exalts his would-be love by etherealizing her as above what he condemns in his own time (not natural in an age like this / Being high and solitary), and predicates upon her qualities of a goddess (peaceful, nobleness, beauty), even a warrior goddess (fire, like a tightened bow, most stern).
His language between lines 6 and 12 is suddenly one of allusions, memories and ideas that the earily Greeks would have known. He continues in line 11 with an allusion to Fate and Necessity, two ideas most certainly known by ancient Greeks, when describing her actions as being necessitated by her character (those attributes mentioned through lines 6 and 10): what could she have done, being what she is …
Then comes- once again with Yeats- an apocalyptic consideration, a consideration which seems to me to be a synthesis of the empirical and ethereal tones of the poem as a whole: Was there another Troy for her to burn. In one breath Yeats refers to both Helen of Troy and \’Maud of Irelanda€™- where Ireland, another Troy, is set ablaze by a large and formidable foe (the fate of ancient Tory). What I love about this poem is that it expresses so much- more than I dare attempt to touch on here- in just a few lines.
Poets that do this (and do it well) leave me staggering in awe. To know a poem in its context, even if vaguely, makes it so much more interesting and beautiful. Yeats would write notes and little comments about the works he produced; because he did this, some of his poems-poems that would normally be too remote for me to a€? feela€™- have become some of my favorite to read and know. Context is a pretty thing. x