A Reading of W.B. Yeats's "A Prayer for my Daughter"
Coming of Age for Old Men and Young Girls
--page 6--

Yet Yeats offers a new image in that stanza, "Plenty's horn," to stand for the source of the rich gifts he hopes will be bestowed on his young daughter.  Although Maud Gonne wasted those gifts, Anne Yeats, he prays, will use them well and wisely.  In the next stanza, his daughter almost becomes an incarnation of Maud Gonne, of the woman who has squandered her virtues, and Yeats provides a prescription for how to regain what has been lost:

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.

The way, or the method, for the soul to "recover radical innocence" is to drive out the tendency toward hatred.  Hatred is the root, Yeats believes, of all evil; it is the opposite--the contrary, to use Blake's terms--of what Yeats means by "courtesy."  And in this stanza Yeats not only suggests what one woman ought to do to heal herself of hatred; nor what one young girl ought to do to avoid hatred; he also suggests what the world needs to heal itself from the divisions and dangers that threaten it so in 1919, in the wake of the worst War the world had ever.  To drive out hatred, to recover innocence, to place one's own will in accord with Heaven's will--this is the way, Yeats promises, that we can all "be happy still."

continue . . .