Stanza wise explanation of ‘For Anne Gregory’ is given here along with meanings and a summary. ‘For Anne Gregory’ is a poem by Yeats with an appeal to recognise beauty by the soul instead of bodily appearance. Click here for notes poetic devices and other resources on Class 10 English.
Summary ‘For Anne Gregory’
The poem ‘For Anne Gregory’ comprises three stanzas. The summary is given here stanza-wise to make it more comprehensible and enjoyable.
The poem is a conversation between a young man and a young lady ‘Anne Gregory’ known for her beautiful hair.
In the first stanza, the speaker, a young man, says that her (Anne Gregori’s) beautiful honey-coloured hair can make any man fall in love with her. This love is not for Anne but for her beautiful features. Anne’s gorgeous hair has been compared to walls, symbolising outer beauty that prevents anyone from looking inside her soul. This beauty can capture any man’s attention so that they may never be able to look beyond that beauty and into Anne’s character. This is what makes the speaker believe that no man can love Anne, for what she is, without her beauty. One can love her only for her beautiful yellow hair and her beauty.
In the second stanza, Anne replies to the speaker of the first stanza. She says that what is visible from the outside is very superficial and not important. She gives an example of her beautiful hair, that she can change the colour of her hair and dye it black, brown or carrot. Just like the colour of her hair is changeable, outer beauty of any kind is changeable and hence not true. She wants to tell the speaker that anyone falling in love with her must see the actual person behind the beauty. Anne thinks that young men, who fall in love with her, must love her for what she is and not for her yellow hair or outward appearance.
In the third and final stanza of the poem, the speaker replies to Anne’s statement about love for internal and not for external beauty. The speaker mentions an old religious man, who announced that he had found a text in which it is written that only God is capable of looking beyond external beauty. Here speaker means that humans do not have the depth and understanding to look inside the soul of a person. Humans are always carried away by the shine and glitter of outer beauty and they never care to know the person behind the beautiful appearance. Therefore, the speaker concludes that only God can love Anne only for herself and not her beauty.
Despair—hopelessness, here it means failure in succeeding or even expecting to get the love of Anne Gregory
Ramparts—a defensive wall of a fort but here it means a lock of hair around the ears; here it is a metaphor as her hair covers her face like ramparts cover and protect a castle. The hair acts as a wall and protects her face from being seen fully or entering to feel the inner beauty of the soul of Anne Gregory. Men will stop just at loving her outward beauty.
Dye—a substance used to change the colour of hair
Carrot—of carrot colour
Yesternight— the previous night
Text—matter, original writing
Declare—to announce or tell others or claim
Prove—to demonstrate and show the truth by evidence or argument
Explanation ‘For Anne Gregory’
“Never shall a young man,
Thrown into despair
By those great honey-coloured
Ramparts at your ear,
Love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.”
The speaker, addressing Anne Gregory, says that her beautiful honey-coloured hair can make any man fall in love with her. This love is not for Anne but for her beautiful external features. Her beautiful hair is compared to wall, symbolising outer beauty. This beauty can capture any man’s attention. But he may not be able to look beyond that into Anne’s character. So the speaker says that no one can love Anne, for what she is. One can love her only for her beautiful yellow hair and her physical beauty.
“But I can get a hair-dye
And set such colour there,
Brown, or black, or carrot,
That young men in despair
May love me for myself alone
And not my yellow hair.”
In this stanza Anne replies to the speaker that she can change the colour of her beautiful hair and dye them in black, brown or carrot. She wants to tell the speaker that anyone falling in love with her must see the actual person behind the beauty. She thinks that young men, who fall in love with her, must love her for what she is and not for her yellow hair.
“I heard an old religious man
But yesternight declare
That he had found a text to prove
That only God, my dear,
Could love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.”
In the last stanza, the speaker replies to Anne about the importance of love for internal beauty not the external one. The speaker talks about an old religious man, who announced that he had found a text in which it is written that only God is capable of looking beyond external beauty. He means that humans do not have the insight and understanding to look into the soul of a person. They are swayed away by the glitter of outer beauty. Therefore, only God can love Anne only for herself and not for her physical beauty.(Poet) WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS (1865-1939) –
He was an Irish nationalist. He was educated in London and Dublin, and was interested in folklore and mythology. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.
Morals and Message of ‘For Anne Gregory
(1) True love is never based on physical attributes alone.
(2) True love is only based on the inner beauty of heart, mind and soul.
(3) It is only God who loves His people selflessly.