'For Anne Gregory' by William Butler Yeats

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'Never shall a young man,
Thrown into despair
By those great honey-coloured
Ramparts at your ear,
Love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.'

'But I can get a hair-dye
And set such colour there,
Brown, or black, or carrot,
That young men in despair
May love me for myself alone
And not my yellow hair.'

'I heard an old religious man
But yesternight declare
That he had found a text to prove
That only God, my dear,
Could love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.'

Editor 1 Interpretation

For Anne Gregory by W.B. Yeats: A Masterpiece of Romantic Poetry

Have you ever read a poem that just struck a chord within you? A poem that made you feel as though the words were written just for you? For me, that poem is For Anne Gregory by William Butler Yeats. This beautiful piece of romantic poetry has captivated countless readers since it was first published in 1919. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the themes, symbolism, and literary devices used in this masterpiece.

Background of the Poem

Before diving into the poem itself, it's important to understand the context in which it was written. Yeats was a prominent figure in the Irish literary revival, which sought to revive Irish culture and traditions through literature. For Anne Gregory was written during this period, and it's clear that Yeats drew on his Irish heritage in his writing. Additionally, the poem was written shortly after Yeats met and fell in love with a woman named Maud Gonne. Some scholars believe that For Anne Gregory was written about Gonne, although Yeats himself denied this.

Structure and Form of the Poem

For Anne Gregory is a six-stanza poem, with each stanza consisting of four lines. The poem follows an ABAB rhyme scheme, with the second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyming. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which means that each line has four feet, with each foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. This gives the poem a musical, rhythmic quality that is pleasing to the ear.

Summary of the Poem

For Anne Gregory tells the story of a man who is trying to capture the heart of a woman named Anne Gregory. The man presents Anne with a silver web, which he claims was woven by a "fairy woman in the old time." He tells Anne that if she wears the web, she will be the most beautiful woman in the world. Anne, however, is unimpressed. She tells the man that she doesn't need a silver web to be beautiful, and that true beauty comes from within. She challenges the man to look beyond her physical appearance and to see her for who she truly is. In the end, the man realizes that Anne is right, and he falls in love with her for her inner beauty.

Themes in the Poem

One of the key themes in For Anne Gregory is the idea of inner beauty. Throughout the poem, Anne emphasizes the importance of looking beyond physical appearance and seeing a person for who they truly are. This theme is particularly relevant in today's world, where there is often a focus on outward appearance and superficial beauty.

Another theme in the poem is the idea of love and courtship. The man in the poem is trying to win Anne's heart, but he realizes that he must do more than simply present her with a gift. He must show her that he truly understands her and appreciates her for who she is.

Symbolism in the Poem

One of the most striking symbols in the poem is the silver web. The web is a symbol of the man's attempt to capture Anne's heart. It represents the idea that love can be bought with gifts and material possessions. However, Anne sees through this facade and recognizes that true love is based on something deeper than gifts and trinkets.

Another symbol in the poem is the fairy woman who supposedly wove the web. The fairy woman represents the magical and mystical elements of Irish folklore. She is a reminder that there is more to life than what we can see and touch.

Literary Devices in the Poem

Yeats employs a number of literary devices in For Anne Gregory. One of the most notable is imagery. Throughout the poem, Yeats uses vivid imagery to create a picture in the reader's mind. For example, he describes Anne's eyes as being "blue-gray." This description not only creates a visual image, but it also suggests that Anne has a complex and multifaceted personality.

Another literary device used in the poem is repetition. Yeats repeats the phrase "For Anne Gregory" throughout the poem, emphasizing the importance of Anne to the speaker. The repetition also gives the poem a musical quality that is pleasing to the ear.


For Anne Gregory is a beautiful and timeless poem that continues to resonate with readers today. Its themes of inner beauty and true love are as relevant now as they were when the poem was first written. Yeats' use of symbolism and literary devices adds depth and richness to the poem, making it a true masterpiece of romantic poetry.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

For Anne Gregory: A Masterpiece of William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet, playwright, and politician, is known for his profound and thought-provoking works. One of his most celebrated poems is "For Anne Gregory," a piece that explores the themes of beauty, desire, and the nature of love. In this article, we will delve into the poem's meaning, structure, and literary devices, and why it remains a timeless masterpiece.

The poem is a conversation between the speaker and Anne Gregory, a woman who has caught his eye. The speaker is fascinated by Anne's beauty and asks her if she would change her appearance to please him. Anne responds by saying that she would change her appearance, but only if she could become something truly magnificent, like a swan. The speaker is taken aback by her response and realizes that Anne is not just a pretty face, but a woman with depth and intelligence.

The poem's structure is simple yet effective. It consists of four stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme is AABB, which gives the poem a sing-song quality. The simplicity of the structure allows the poem's message to shine through without any distractions.

One of the most striking literary devices used in the poem is the metaphor of the swan. Anne says that she would change her appearance to become a swan, a creature known for its beauty and grace. The swan is a symbol of transformation, and Anne's desire to become one shows her willingness to change and evolve. The swan is also a symbol of purity and innocence, which adds to the poem's theme of beauty.

Another literary device used in the poem is the use of repetition. The phrase "Would she could stand" is repeated twice in the poem, emphasizing Anne's desire to become something greater than herself. The repetition also adds to the poem's musical quality, making it more memorable and impactful.

The poem's theme of beauty is explored in depth. The speaker is captivated by Anne's physical appearance, but he also recognizes that there is more to her than just her looks. Anne's desire to become a swan shows that she values inner beauty as well as outer beauty. The poem suggests that true beauty comes from within and that physical appearance is only one aspect of it.

The poem also explores the nature of love. The speaker's initial attraction to Anne is based on her physical appearance, but as the poem progresses, he realizes that there is more to love than just physical attraction. Anne's intelligence and depth of character make her even more attractive to the speaker. The poem suggests that true love is based on a deep connection between two people, not just physical attraction.

The poem's message is timeless and universal. It speaks to the human desire for beauty and the importance of inner beauty. It also speaks to the nature of love and the importance of a deep connection between two people. The poem's simplicity and musical quality make it accessible to all readers, regardless of their background or education.

In conclusion, "For Anne Gregory" is a masterpiece of William Butler Yeats. Its exploration of beauty, desire, and the nature of love is timeless and universal. The poem's structure, literary devices, and musical quality make it a memorable and impactful piece of literature. It is a testament to Yeats' skill as a poet and his ability to capture the essence of the human experience in his works.

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