Prayer for my daughter

A Prayer for My Daughter

by William Butler Yeats

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-leveling wind.
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-legged smith for man.
It’s certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.

In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty’s very self, has charm made wise,
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.

May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there’s no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.

An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of Plenty’s horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?

Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.

And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all’s accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony’s a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

Literary Analysis

“A Prayer for My Daughter” is a reflection of the poet’s love for his daughter. It is also about surviving the turmoil of the contemporary world, where passions have been separated from reason. The setting of the poem is unspecified. The speaker is the poet himself talking to his daughter. The tone is gloomy, precarious, and frightening, as well as didactic.

The poem opens with a description of the speaker praying for his innocent infant daughter, Anne, lying in the middle of a storm “howling, and half hid.” The poet demonstrates his feelings through the use of symbols of weather. The newborn baby girl is sleeping “Under this cradle-hood and coverlid,” implying the innocence and vulnerability of Anne. Though the external world is violent, she is protected from it. The storm is a metaphor for the Irish people’s struggle for their independence, which was an uncertain political situation in Yeats’s day. He further presents the situation of the storm with “roof-leveling wind”, representing turbulence, in the midst of which the poet has “walked and prayed for this young child an hour.” Intense and threatening forces surround her like a “flooded stream.” The poet symbolizes the sea thus: “Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.” Despite his apprehensions for his child in this turbulent world, he is hopeful for her.

The poet continues on to comment on his hopes for her beauty:“May she be granted beauty and yet not.” His vacillation is that beauty in women sometimes brings disasters. For example, some such people have a difficult time choosing the right person as a life partner, and neither they can “find a friend.” The speaker lays emphasis on the need for feminine innocence. The poet advances his argument in the next stanzas by citing examples of beautiful women such as Helen of Troy, whose beauty was said to be the cause of the Trojan War. By the end, the poet wants his daughter to be courteous, as love cannot come unconditionally and freely. She must earn love with good efforts and kind-heartedness, and she cannot win it by merely physical beauty because “Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned.” Summing up his theme, the poet wishes his daughter to possess such qualities that could help her face the future years confidently and independently.

Structural Analysis

The poem is written in a lyric form containing ten stanzas with eight lines in each stanza. The poem follows a regular rhyme scheme, which is AABBCDDC as shown below:

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour  A
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,          A
And-under the arches of the bridge, and scream          B
In the elms above the flooded stream;                         B
Imagining in excited reverie                                        C
That the future years had come,                                  D
Dancing to a frenzied drum,                                        D
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.                C

The meter of this poem alternates between iambic pentameter and trochaic pentameter, as inI have walked and prayed for this young child an hour / And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower.” The poem is rich in literary devices such as symbolism, personification, paradox, sibilance, assonance, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. The line “murderous innocence of the sea” is an example of paradox. Sibilance is found in the words “sea-wind scream,” while “scream” is also an example of an onomatopoeia. The use of personification can be noted in the lines “future years … dancing”, which implies the transience of life. The poet uses symbols such as “sea wind” and “flooded stream” which denote turbulent forces at work. Alliteration is present in the phrase “be granted beauty.”

Guidance for Usage of Quotes

The poem is concerned with the chaotic modern world. It shows a father consumed with apprehension for his daughter’s future in an uncertain political situation. The father is tense about how he can possibly protect his daughter from the raging storm outside, because she is very beautiful. Therefore, he prays for her as well as gives advice about how to live successfully on earth. Similarly, modern-day fathers can send quotes from this poem to their daughters as a piece of advice for special occasions:

“In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty’s very self, has charm made wise,
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.”

literarydevices.net

A Prayer For My Daughter 

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid

Under this cradle-hood and coverlid

My child sleeps on.  There is no obstacle

But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill

Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind,

Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;

And for an hour I have walked and prayed

Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour

And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,

And under the arches of the bridge, and scream

In the elms above the flooded stream;

Imagining in excited reverie

That the future years had come,

Dancing to a frenzied drum,

Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.

May she be granted beauty and yet not

Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,

Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,

Being made beautiful overmuch,

Consider beauty a sufficient end,

Lose natural kindness and maybe

The heart-revealing intimacy

That chooses right, and never find a friend.

Helen being chosen found life flat and dull

And later had much trouble from a fool,

While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,

Being fatherless could have her way

Yet chose a bandy-leggèd smith for man.

It’s certain that fine women eat

A crazy salad with their meat

Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.

In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;

Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned

By those that are not entirely beautiful;

Yet many, that have played the fool

For beauty’s very self, has charm made wise,

And many a poor man that has roved,

Loved and thought himself beloved,

From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.

May she become a flourishing hidden tree

That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,

And have no business but dispensing round

Their magnanimities of sound,

Nor but in merriment begin a chase,

Nor but in merriment a quarrel.

O may she live like some green laurel

Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

My mind, because the minds that I have loved,

The sort of beauty that I have approved,

Prosper but little, has dried up of late,

Yet knows that to be choked with hate

May well be of all evil chances chief.

If there’s no hatred in a mind

Assault and battery of the wind

Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.

An intellectual hatred is the worst,

So let her think opinions are accursed.

Have I not seen the loveliest woman born

Out of the mouth of Plenty’s horn,

Because of her opinionated mind

Barter that horn and every good

By quiet natures understood

For an old bellows full of angry wind?

Considering that, all hatred driven hence,

The soul recovers radical innocence

And learns at last that it is self-delighting,

Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,

And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will;

She can, though every face should scowl

And every windy quarter howl

Or every bellows burst, be happy still.

And may her bridegroom bring her to a house

Where all’s accustomed, ceremonious;

For arrogance and hatred are the wares

Peddled in the thoroughfares.

How but in custom and in ceremony

Are innocence and beauty born?

Ceremony’s a name for the rich horn,

And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

                                      By W. B. Yeats 

An introduction and occasion of the poem

A prayer for my daughter is an intensely personal poem. Written in 1919, a few weeks after Yeats daughter Anne was born, this poem speaks about the anxiety felt for the well-being of his daughter as also about the anxiety shared by all fathers all over the world torn by war and greed. He thinks how his daughter will face the coarse and vulgar world. He imagines the war drums which forecast the struggle for survival. He thinks that the cruelty of man is more dangerous than the murderous innocence of the sea. He believes that she can protect herself by cultivating virtues of nobility and courtesy. He prays that his daughter should have beauty but not vanity. He wants his daughter to have happy and innocent thoughts in her mind. She should scatter her happiness all around. Her soul should flourish like a flourishing tree. He wants his daughter to be free from hatred and to shun strong or stubborn opinion on any subject – political or otherwise. He wants innocence to replace hatred. It will give inner peace to his daughter. He wishes his daughter to get married in a good aristocratic family and lead a happy life.

Summary of the poem

The poet expresses deep concern for his infant daughter who sleeps in a cradle. The roof-levelling strong wind is blowing outside. She is well covered and protected from the onslaughts of violent wind. He paces up and down and prays for the well-being of his daughter. The strong wind makes the poet gloomy. He thinks how his daughter will face the coarse and vulgar world. He imagines the war drums which forecast ht struggle for survival. He thinks that the cruelty of man is more dangerous that the murderous innocence of the sea. She must protect herself by a shield. The shield stands for qualities and virtues. So the poet wants his daughter to be virtuous and good. The poet prays that his daughter should have beauty and not vanity. Helen, the most beautiful woman, eloped with Prince Paris of troy and this resulted in the destruction of troy. Similarly, Aphrodite (Venus) married Hephaestus, the lame blacksmith of the gods, unwisely and betrayed him later on. Maud Gonne (the poet’s beloved) married a worthless man MacBride and remained unhappy. Thus, the poet wants his daughter to inculcate the virtues of courtesy and humility. The heats of people can be won by courtesy. Even those who are not very beautiful can win the hearts of others by showing courtesy. Virtues in a woman are more important than physical beauty. 

The poet wants his daughter to have happy and innocent thoughts in her mind. She should scatter her happiness all round. Her soul should flourish like a flourishing tree which gives comforts to all. He considers hatred as the worst of all evils. So he prays that his daughter should be free from this evil. If the person does not entertain hatred, no misfortunes can possible ruin his happiness. Then he thinks that intellectual hatred is the worst kind of hatred. It is the worst flaw in a person’s character. So he wants his daughter to shun strong or stubborn opinions on any subject – political or otherwise. The poet says that Maud Gonne, an extremely beautiful woman, wasted her aristocratic traditions in political arguments. If hatred is replaces by innocence, it can bring happiness to all. It will give inner peace to his daughter. The poet wishes that his daughter gets married in a good aristocratic family which observes traditional manners and courtesies. Hatred and arrogance will have no place in that family. Arrogance and hatred are the traits of masses. Beauty and innocence come from established traditions. His love for traditional aristocratic values is reflected in the poem. He wants his daughter to follow the traditional norms and values.

englishpoetsummary.blogspot.com

Your daughter is a precious gift from God and you want to do all that you can to protect her, encourage her, and build her confidence. One of the greatest tools we have as a parent is prayer! The below prayers on various topics such as self worth, wisdom, purity, and protection, can help you find the words to pray over your daughter. When you are worried and anxious about your daughter’s life and choices, you can cast your cares on Jesus and find peace knowing that He has a plan for good! Be encouraged that God moves through prayer and you can equip yourself and your daughter with wisdom.

Prayer for your Daughter’s Heart

Dear Lord, I know that Your Word does not return void and I’m believing great things for my daughter today:
1. Let her learn early in life that to obey You, God, is the best way to the life her heart truly desires (1 Samuel 15:22).
2. May she find comfort in Your ability, God, to reach her, hold her and rescue her (2 Samuel 22:17-18).
3. Let her find confidence in You, God, even when hard times come and she doesn’t know what to do, by keeping her eyes fixed on You (2 Chronicles 20:12).
4. May she keep herself under control and not give full vent to people and situations that anger her (Proverbs 29:11).
5. Let her walk in the security of Your assigned worth to her. Give her a strong work ethic and health to accomplish all her tasks. Give her a heart that desires to extend her hand to those in need. Protect her for the right husband, a man of respect and godly honor. And let her be a woman of joy and laughter whose Christ-centered character is what makes her most beautiful (Proverbs 31).
May we both grow in our relationship with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
~ Lysa TerKeurst

Prayer for a Struggling Daughter 

Create in _________________ a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within her (Psalm 51:10). Though you have made ______________ see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore her life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring her up. You will increase ________________’s honor and comfort her once again (Psalm 71:20-21). Thank You that Your word says I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate ___________ from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
~ Cindi McMenamin

Prayer for Our Daughter’s Self-Worth and Purity

Dear Jesus, we weep with you over the number of our kids who are buying into the lie that sexual pleasure is something to experiment with. We pray that our daughters would treasure their sexuality as a true gift from You, and that they would honor that gift by saving it as a precious treasure to give their future spouse. We ask that you would help them to be strong in the face of their own desires and that they would choose purity in the face of temptation. 

Lord we also ask that you’d protect our daughters from the idea that they must do anything and everything (including abusing their bodies through eating disorders, drug abuse, or other harmful behaviors) in order to attaining a “preferred” shape or figure. We pray you’d protect our sons from that kind of destructive thinking, and that if they’re tempted to take these kind of drastic measures, that you’d send someone in their lives to stop them. Help them to remember over and over that their identity is not in how they look on the outside but what you see as their potential and worth on the inside.

We pray that our daughters would treasure their health as a gift from God and that they would have a passion to eat nutritious food and to stay active in order to do their part to take care of this treasure. In Jesus name, Amen.
~ Alicia Michelle

Prayer For Daughter to Find Identity in Christ

Dear Jesus, help my daughter know that we are all born as sinners and separated from God because of our wicked hearts. However, at an early age, help her grasp the life-transforming concept that he does not have to live as a sinner under that condemnation.

Teach my daughter that she has the opportunity to accept a new, beautiful identity that is called “good,” not because of what she has done or what she looks like, but because she is secure in who YOU say she is: treasured, delightful, known and protected. Let her not place her self-worth in accomplishments she may or may not achieve, but let her discover these deeper truths about who You believe she is and build every decision she makes on that sure foundation. In Jesus name, amen.
~ Alicia Michelle

A Prayer for Daughters Protection 

Lord, I pray Your emotional, physical, and spiritual protection over my daughter. Keep evil far from her, and help her to trust You as her refuge and strength. I pray You will guard her mind from harmful instruction, and grant her discernment to recognize truth. I pray You will make her strong and courageous in the presence of danger, recognizing that You have overcome and will set right all injustice and wrong one day. Help her to find rest in Your shadow, as she lives in the spiritual shelter You provide for her. Let her know that the only safe place is in Jesus, and that her home on earth is only temporary. In Jesus name, amen.
~ Rebecca Barlow Jordan

Prayer for Daughter’s Spiritual Strength

I’m praying my daughter whose hands are limp and whose tongue is silent. Nudge her to pick up her sword. Help her conceive a strategic plan to take back what the enemy has plundered. Lead her to scriptures for every area of defeat. Give her a voice to speak them out loud. Let the enemy know that You are raising up a standard against him with a resurrected daughter. In Jesus name, Amen.
~ Christine Wyrtzen

We hope these prayers have been able to guide your thoughts and desires for your daughter! Rest in God’s promises that He is a loving Creator and Father who has good things in store for your child! Join other moms in the comments below and be encouraged by our large praying community.

This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can’t find the words to pray.

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