Prayer for my son and 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.”

Updated on January 1, 2018

MsDora, Certified Christian Counselor, has spent over 20 years empowering young and adult women to pursue positive, productive womanhood.

What wonderful blessings God sends our way

In good gifts that come from above!

And the gift that He gave my son and me

Is a woman easy to love.

First, she proves she’s a special creation;

She wears God’s design on her life.

His beauty glows bright in her countenance;

She’s the portrait of a good wife.

Then, because she’s a genuine woman.

She displays in her feminine charm

The sweet, gentler side of God’s nature:

Confident, dignified, and warm.

To all these good reasons I still must add

That she’s the belle my son chose.

He looked close at the garden in full bloom

And selected the fairest rose.

Now that she is officially his wife

I share in her hope and her joy

That God will grant her a lifetime of love

In the home she shares with my boy.

Birthday cake by my daughter in law | Source

I’m committed to praying for both of them,

To support in ways that I can;

To be the best mother-in-law there is

And support her stand by her man.

She’s won my respect for all that she does:

Birthday cakes and gourmet dishes,

Self-care, household management and more

Her fine skills exceed my wishes.

So I thank God when I count my blessings

For the gifts He sends from above;

For His special gift to my son and me-

A woman so easy to love.

Bless this loving wife.

Give her a tenderness that makes her great, a deep sense of understanding and a great faith in You.

Give her that inner beauty of soul that never fades – eternal youth that is found in holding fast to the things that never age.

May she so live that he may be pleased always to reverence and adore her. Amen.

(The original form of this prayer was published in Decision Magazine sometime before June 1971 and was attributed to Dr. Lewis Evans.)

My First Anniversary Prayer

Heavenly Father, today on their first anniversary, I am grateful for the love You have created within the hearts of my son and his wife toward each other.

Thank You for the pleasant interaction my daughter-in-law and I share, and for her Christlike virtues which make her still easy to love.

Please show me how to maintain a welcoming attitude toward her, and how to be positively involved, but not interfering in her married life.

May we become better, happier women as we both contribute toward the happiness of her marriage.

I pray with thanksgiving, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

My Everyday *Bible Prayers

Offspring – (Genesis 49:25)

May the Almighty bless you with the blessings of the heavens above . . . and blessings of the breasts and womb.

Success – Psalm 90:17)

And may the Lord our God show . . . his approval and make your efforts successful.

Love – (Phillipians 1:9)

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.

Virtue – (Phillipians 1:11)

May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ.

Endurance – (Colossians 1: 11)

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.

Joy – (Colossians 1: 11, 12)

May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father

Fulfillment – (2 Thessalonians 1: 11)

May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.

*Bible Quotes in the table are from the New Living Translation.

My Favorite “In-Law” Story

But Ruth (daughter in law) clung tightly to Naomi (mother in law).

“Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”

When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.

Book of Ruth Chapter 1: 14-18 (NLT)

© 2011 Dora Weithers

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