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No Second Troy

No Second Troy


by William Butler Yeats

Rhetorical Questions

Symbol Analysis

"No Second Troy" is structured around four different rhetorical questions. These are questions the poet does not need or intend to answer. He probably already knows the answers. It's like when you ask yourself, "Why should I study for the test tomorrow? I already know the material." You also already know you're not going to study; you're just justifying your decision to yourself. In this poem, the speaker wonders why he should blame "her" (Maud Gonne – see "In a Nutshell") for causing so many problems for him and his country. The questions make it seem like he doesn't blame her, but we suspect he does...

  • Lines 1-5: The purpose of the first rhetorical question is to lay out all of the charges against Gonne. It's just an excuse to point out that she broke Yeats's heart and tried to stir unrest in Ireland.
  • Lines 6-10: The second rhetorical question is an excuse to talk about how great Gonne is, how beautiful, noble, and powerful.
  • Line 11: The third rhetorical question sums up what the poet has been saying so far, that she is who she is. How philosophical of you, Yeats.
  • Line 12: The last rhetorical question delivers the punch line: Maud is as troublesome as Helen of Troy, and she would burn down a city if she could!

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