No Second Troy by William Butler Yeats Poems Summary Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


‘No Second Troy,’ a 12-line poem, is written to Maud Gonne, who got married to John MacBride in 1903 to Yeats’ great distress. Yeats was devastated by Maud’s unexpected marriage with John MacBride in February 1903. Yeats loved the Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, but she declined his marriage offer. ‘No Second Troy’ was written after Yeats’ final rejection of his love offer and sudden marriage to John MacBride, who, ironically, was later declared the martyr of the Irish Freedom Movement through Yeats’ efforts. Even though Maud and MacBride’s marriage ended in divorce two years later, Yeats was in a lot of pain.

About the poet

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet, dramatist, writer, and politician. Born in Sandymount, Ireland, he was a key figure in 20th-century literature, driving the Irish Literary Revival and founding the Abbey Theatre. Yeats studied poetry from an early age, influenced by Irish legends and the occult. His earliest verse was published in 1889, displaying influences from Edmund Spenser, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923 and published major works like The Tower and Words for Music Perhaps and Other Poems in 1928.


Line 1-5

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?


In these lines from the poem “No Second Troy” by W.B. Yeats, the speaker reflects on his complex feelings towards a woman. He contemplates whether he should blame her for bringing misery into his life or for influencing others, particularly ignorant men, to adopt violent ways and challenge those in power. The speaker suggests that the woman’s actions are driven by a desire for change, but she is frustrated by the lack of courage in those she seeks to inspire.


The speaker questions whether he should blame a woman for causing misery in his life and encouraging ignorant men to adopt violent ways. The speaker acknowledges the tumultuous relationship and the woman’s influence on society. The woman’s actions suggest a desire to challenge the established order, mobilizing people from less powerful areas to confront authority. However, the speaker believes the woman’s efforts are hindered by the lack of courage among the “ignorant men,” reflecting the tension between idealism and reality. The speaker grapples with conflicting emotions and thoughts about the woman, highlighting personal and political themes.

Line 6-10

What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?


In these lines from W.B. Yeats’s poem “No Second Troy,” the speaker reflects on the woman’s character and what might have brought her inner peace. The speaker marvels at her noble and straightforward nature, comparing it to the simplicity of fire. He also describes her beauty as a “tightened bow,” suggesting a sense of potential energy or readiness. However, the speaker acknowledges that her qualities, marked by nobility, solitude, and sternness, are not typically found in the society of their time.


The speaker describes the woman, describing her mind as peaceful, amidst turmoil and conflict. She is compared to a fire, symbolizing her nobility and straightforwardness. Her beauty is described as a tightened bow, indicating her determination to challenge the status quo. However, her qualities are unusual in their society, making her a unique and challenging figure. The speaker’s fascination with the woman’s character highlights her inner peace, nobility, and readiness for action, setting the stage for further exploration of their complex relationship.

Line 11-12

Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?


In these lines from W.B. Yeats’s poem “No Second Troy,” the speaker questions the woman’s actions and the expectations placed upon her. The speaker wonders what she could have done differently given her nature and character. The reference to “another Troy” alludes to the woman’s symbolic role as a destructive force, suggesting that there may not have been any other way for her to express her intensity or passion.


The speaker reflects on a woman’s character and actions, questioning her innate qualities and potential consequences. The speaker references the mythological story of Helen of Troy, highlighting the impact of her intense nature on others. The speaker questions whether her actions were inevitable and if society’s judgment is fair. The lines emphasize the tension between individual nature and societal expectations, highlighting the destructive potential of intense passion and beauty, drawing on the mythological reference to Helen of Troy.