Monday, January 23, 2023

Class X - First Flight- Poem - For Anne Gregory by William Butler Yeats


Poem - For Anne Gregory by William Butler Yeats

About the Poet

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and nationalist born in Dublin. His ideas and works were influenced by the religious and national turmoil in Ireland. He loved Irish folklore. He embraced metaphysical philosophy Folklore and mysticism dominated his thoughts and poetry. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.

Central Idea of the Poem

Yeats is of the view that most people love others just because they attract them physically. The complexion of the skin and the colour of the hair are more important to us than the 'real' worth of a person. We rarely love people for themselves alone. Even the beautiful Anne Gregory is not liked or loved for her inner beauty or her rare qualities of head and heart but for her beautiful yellow hair. Shallow-minded people adore only physical beauty. We should look for spiritual beauty before falling in love with a lady. Physical beauty is just skin-deep. It is momentary. Unfortunately, most people are attracted by the colour of skin and hair. Only God can love a person for himself alone.

Summary of the Poem

1. Love for Yellow Hair: This poem of W.B. Yeats has been addressed to a young and beautiful lady named Anne Gregory. The physical charm of the young lady is irresistible. Her honey-coloured blonde hair falling on her ear easily attract the onlookers. The hair falling on the ears look like the ramparts or wide walls around a castle. However, it is difficult to say that a young man is thrown into despair and starts loving her only for 'herself alone'. The physical beauty of her hair is so irresistible that the lover doesn't even bother to know whether the young lady has internal beauty and possesses nobility of the soul.

2. Superficial Physical Appearance: Anne Gregory's response in the second stanza is quite expected. She wants to say that she can get hair dye of any kind or colour. It depends on her if she colours her hair brown, black or carrot colour. She explodes the myth of physical beauty. She asks why a young man should fall in love with her and sigh in despair only after seeing the colour of her hair. If at all, any young man shows his love for her, then, that love should be based on her merits She should be loved, not for her outward appearance but for her inner beauty or personality. Her character. personality and inner beauty must be the cause of attraction and not her yellow hair.

3. God's Ability to Look Inside: The poet resolves the conflict in the third stanza. The poet quotes a religious text to prove his point Men are men Humans will fall to physical attractions quite easily. It is quite possible for a young man to be attracted by the beauty of Anne Gregory's blonde hair. Only God has the ability to resist outwardly physical temptations Only God can judge a man or a woman by what he or she is or his or her merits Human beings, without God's strength, can't look beyond outward appearances and physical beauty.

Main Points of the Poem

  1. The poem is addressed to a young and beautiful lady named Anne Gregory.

  2. Her hair is honey-coloured or blonde

  3. Every young man loves Anne just because of her beautiful hair

  4. Her hair falling on her ears look like the ramparts surrounding a castle.

  5. The poet says that no one would love Anne Gregory for 'herself alone"

  6. No one cares for her inner beauty or the nobility of her soul.

  7. Her outward appearance and her yellow hair are the only causes for her attraction

  8. In the second stanza, the lady, Anne Gregory herself settles the issue.

  9. She says that she is free to choose what colour she uses to dye her hair 

  10. She can dye her hair brown or black or the colour of a carrot

  11. Any young man should fall in love with her only after judging her own merits.

  12. Her yellow hair or outwardly appearance should not make any young man to sigh for her in despair.

  13. She should be loved for 'herself alone'.

  14. In the last stanza, the poet resolves the issue.

  15. The poet quotes a religious text.

  16. It is beyond human beings not to be attracted by physical appearance or beauty.

  17. Human beings can be easily swayed by beautiful yellow hair or outwardly appearance.

  18. Only God has the ability to withstand the temptations of physical beauty.

  19. Men, without God's strength, simply can't look beyond physical appearances.


Thinking About the poem(page 141)

Question 1. 

What does the young man mean by "great honey-coloured/Ramparts at your ear?" Why does he say that young men are "thrown into despair" by them?


The "great honey-coloured ramparts" in the poem "For Anne Gregory" by William Butler Yeats refers to Anne's blonde hair. The metaphor of the ramparts suggests that her hair is striking and impressive, like the fortifications of a castle.

The color honey-colored is likely a reference to the golden and warm color of her hair and the use of the word "ramparts" emphasizes the striking visual impact of her hair. And as to why he says that young men are "thrown into despair" by them, the metaphor is a way of expressing how captivating and beautiful Anne's hair is and how it affects those who see it.


Question 2. 

What colour is the young woman's hair? What does she say she can change it to? Why would she want to do so?


The colour of the young woman's hair is golden. Her hair can be called 'blonde'. She says that she can change the colour of her hair according to her choice. She can dye the hair brown, black or carrot colour. She wants to show that outward appearances can easily be changed. A young man should not fall in love with her only after seeing her yellow hair or outward appearance. 

Question 3. 

Objects have qualities which make them desirable to others. Can you think of some objects (a car, a phone, a dress.....) and say what qualities make one object more desirable than another? Imagine you were trying to sell an object: what qualities would you emphasise? 


When comparing objects, different people may value different qualities, but some common ones that can make an object more desirable than another include:

  • A car: fuel efficiency, speed, luxury features, safety ratings, brand reputation

  • A phone: camera quality, battery life, processing power, storage capacity, design

  • A dress: fabric quality, style, fit, brand, durability

When trying to sell an object, the qualities that are emphasized would depend on the target market and what they value most. For example, if trying to sell a car to a consumer who values fuel efficiency, the salesperson would emphasize the car's fuel efficiency and its cost savings. If trying to sell a phone to a consumer who values photography, the salesperson would emphasize the phone's camera quality and the features it has for photography. If trying to sell a dress to a consumer who values style, the salesperson would emphasize the dress's design, the designer and the style that is in trend.

In general, the most desirable qualities of an object are those that are most useful, reliable, and aesthetically pleasing to the consumer, and that meet the consumer's needs.

A car is an easy way of personal transport. A phone is the easiest way of communication. Similarly, a dress can be used to make your personality more presentable before others. While selling an object, I will emphasize not only its appearance but also its inherent positive characteristics and features.

Question 4.

What about people? Do we love others because we like their qualities, whether physical or mental? Or is it possible to love someone "for themselves alone"? Are some people 'more lovable' than others? Discuss this question in pairs or in groups, considering points like the following:

  1. a parent or caregiver's love for a newborn baby, for a mentally or physically challenged child, for a clever child or a prodigy

  2. the public's love for a film star, a sportsperson, a politician, or a social worker. 

  3. your love for a friend, or brother or sister. 

  4. your love for a pet, and the pet's love for you.


It is possible to both love someone for their qualities, whether physical or mental, and to love someone "for themselves alone." People can be attracted to certain qualities in others, but ultimately it is the person as a whole that is loved.

A parent or caregiver's love for a newborn baby is often based on the unconditional love and bond that is formed from the moment the baby is born. This type of love is often independent of the baby's physical or mental characteristics and is based on the bond and responsibility of being a parent.

The public's love for a film star, sportsperson, politician, or social worker can be based on both their qualities and their actions. For example, a film star may be loved for their acting ability and good looks, while a social worker may be loved for their selfless actions and dedication to helping others.

Similarly, one's love for a friend, brother, or sister can be based on both their qualities and their actions, as well as the shared history and bond that exists between them.

As for a pet, the love for it can be based on their companionship, loyalty, and affection. The pet's love for its owner can also be based on these factors and the bond that is formed through care and attention.

It can be said that people can be "more lovable" in the sense that certain people may possess qualities that are more attractive to certain individuals. However, it is important to note that the concept of "lovability" is subjective and can vary from person to person.

Question 5.

You have perhaps concluded that people are not objects to be valued for their qualities or riches rather than for themselves. But elsewhere Yeats asks the question: How can we separate the dancer from the dance? Is it possible to separate the person himself or herself from how the person looks, sounds, walks and so on? Think of how you or a friend or member of your family has changed over the years. Has your relationship also changed? In what way?


It is true that people are not objects to be valued solely for their qualities or riches, but rather for themselves as individuals. However, it can be difficult to separate a person from their physical and mental characteristics, as these are integral parts of who they are.

In Yeats' poem, "How can we separate the dancer from the dance?" he is asking how we can separate the person from their actions and appearance. He is suggesting that it is difficult to love the person from how they look, sound, and walk, as these are all integral parts of their identity.

As people change over the years, their physical and mental characteristics change as well, and this can affect relationships. For example, as a person ages, their appearance may change and this can affect how others perceive them. Similarly, as a person's mental or physical health changes, their behavior and actions may change, which can affect how others interact with them.

It's important to remember that people are complex and multi-faceted, and that our relationship with them can change over time as we get to know them better and as they change. It's important to remember that one's worth is not based on their physical or mental characteristics but on their humanity, and that's what truly makes them valuable.

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