Section 3: Third Rhetorical Question Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
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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