In Yeats poem “A Prayer for My Daughter” he talks about the kind of person he wishes his daughter to become when she is older. He mentions wanting her to be beautiful, but not too beautiful, as well as “chiefly learned” among other things.
Think about what might change if Yeats had written this as “A Prayer for My Son”. What kind of attributes would be ideal for a male as he grows up? Write 1-2 stanzas of what you think this poem might look like, and write a short explanation for your choices.
A Prayer for My Son (Verses 2 and 4)
May he be granted status and yet not
Status to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
Or his before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made powerful overmuch,
Consider power a sufficient end,
Lose natural humility and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend
In certainty I’d have him chiefly learned;
Loyalties are not had as a gift but loyalties are earned
By those that are not entirely powerful;
Yet many that have played the fool
For power’s very self, has charm made wise,
And many a poor man that has roved,
Trusted and thought himself entrusted,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.
I supposed that a man’s power and status was important in this time, so it would only make sense that that’s what a father would want for his son. The speaker, however, has his child’s best interest at heart, so he doesn’t want his son to be too powerful. With his status, he wants his son to remain humble, and to be smart in not too easily trusting others. People that may envy his power or seek him out just to benefit from his status might try to befriend him. In that sense, his father wants him to be cautious and aware, but still able to trust people.
I thought this was an awesome activity. It was something that I had considered myself, so I’m glad that my partner cam up with it. I appreciate that it makes you analyze the text. Then you have to synthesize your own work, based on the text, meaning you have to apply Yeats’ voice and style. It also has you look at gender roles in that historical context. This journal topic gets students to think on different levels, as well as allows for creativity.