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No Second Troy

No Second Troy


by William Butler Yeats

Section 3: Third Rhetorical Question Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Line 11

Why, what could she have done being what she is?

  • So far, we have gotten one new question every five lines. But the last two lines give us two different questions.
  • This line is strangely vague and general. Also, the syntax (the order of words) is gnarled and complicated with all those verbs: "could...have," "done," "being," and "is."
  • The speaker is simultaneously thinking about some other reality in which Maud Gonne was not such a firebrand or heartbreaker, even as he recognizes that it could never have been any other way.
  • He decides that there is no point guessing about what could have been and blaming Maud for the way she was born and raised. That's just how she is!
  • To make matters more confusing, Yeats even manages to squeeze two question words into one question: the line begins, "Why, what..." We would have liked him to work in "how" and "when," too, but not a bad effort as it stands.

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